South African police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades Sunday at a protest in Johannesburg against migrant workers that drew some 200 people, many of them unemployed.
South Africa, the continent’s leading industrialised economy, is a magnet for migrant workers but immigrants from other African countries are regularly targeted in deadly xenophobic attacks.
“There were some rubber bullets and stun grenades fired when the protesters were becoming unruly,” a police spokesman said. “The situation was then contained,” he told AFP, adding: “There were no clashes.”
No injuries were reported.
Tension mounted when the protesters tried to break through a police cordon, an AFP photographer reported.
The demonstration moved from a park to a nearby supermarket that employs foreign workers.
A simultaneous demonstration took place in the Alexandra township north of Johannesburg, where around 100 anti-immigration protesters tore down stalls belonging to traders described by the demonstrators as “foreigners”.
On Saturday, police used water cannon against protesters in a poor district of Johannesburg who were also demanding the departure of migrant workers.
According to South Africa’s statistics agency, some 3.95 million foreigners live in the country including political refugees and qualified expatriate workers as well as economic migrants.
The competition they provide for work has caused resentment among jobless South Africans.
Unemployment stands at nearly 35 percent overall and around 65 percent among young people.
The Zimbabwean embassy last month complained that its nationals suffered harassment and threats of “forced expulsion”.
South African authorities announced last month that the temporary work visas of around 250,000 Zimbabweans will not be renewed.
Xenophobic riots claimed around a dozen lives in 2019, and in 2008 left around 60 people dead.