South African police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to break up clashes between local protesters and immigrants at a rally in Pretoria against foreigners.
Hundreds marched towards the foreign ministry on Friday, calling for the deportation of foreigners who they claim have taken their jobs.
Police tried to keep protesters, some of them armed with sticks and pipes, apart from foreigners who were gathered to express alarm about recent attacks.
“There was a standoff between 100 protesters and 100 or so mostly Somali nationals who had come out onto the streets … saying they would defend themselves, their families homes and businesses,”
Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane said officers arrested 136 people over the past 24 hours.
Protesters handed the ministry a petition that calls on the government to teach foreigners how to speak properly.
“They are arrogant and they don’t know how to talk to people,” the petition said, singling out Nigerians.
“Many citizens of other countries living in South Africa are law abiding and contribute to the economy of the country positively,” Zuma said.
“It is wrong to [brand] all non-nationals as drug dealers or human traffickers.”
Zuma acknowledged complaints about companies that hire illegal immigrants and said the foreign affairs office “will be cracking down on all employers who continue with this practice, which is dangerous as it pits locals against non-nationals”.