Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 18:51 UK

S Africa troops sent onto streets

Immigrants carry belongings as they leave an informal refugee camp in Primrose, Johannesburg, 22 May 2008
Foreigners have sheltered at informal camps as they flee the violence

South African troops have been deployed for the first time in an effort to stop attacks on foreigners that have left 42 dead and forced thousands to flee.

Soldiers backed police in early morning raids at three hostels in Johannesburg, arresting 28 people and seizing drugs, arms and ammunition.

This is the first time soldiers have been used to stamp out unrest in South Africa since the 1994 end of apartheid.

Some 15,000 people have sought shelter

from the attacks.

Buses burnt

Attacks have been reported in North-West province for the first time, after violence in Durban in recent days.

There were also attacks in the north-eastern Mpumalanga province.

"Two buses were burnt last night and one Mozambican guy was shot. He is in hospital," said police spokeswoman Sibongile Nkosi.

Police in Johannesburg say the situation there has become calmer.

The screams of the burning Mozambican still haunt me... I have never seen such barbarism
Zimbabwean woman

The medium-sized mining company DRDGold said two of its workers killed on Tuesday - one of whom was South African - had died in violence in the Ramaphosa township near Johannesburg.

The workers were from the East Rand proprietary mine where the company said more than half of the miners on Thursday's day shift had failed to report for work. Almost a third of the mine's semi-skilled workers are foreign.

Miners' union officials have been discussing the disruption with representatives of the Mozambican workforce.

Meanwhile, Mozambique has provided buses to take about 9,000 people home.

The BBC's Karen Allen saw chaotic scenes and scuffles at a Johannesburg police station, as Mozambicans tried to scramble on board buses to take them home.

Leonardo Boby, deputy national director of migration, said about 3,000 people had returned to Mozambique each day this week.


The makeshift camps where displaced foreigners seek shelter

Some Zimbabweans are also going home, preferring to risk the violence there than stay in South Africa.

One Zimbabwean woman told the BBC she had decided to return home from Johannesburg after seeing a series of xenophobic attacks.

The 36-year-old woman said she had seen an armed gang douse a Mozambican immigrant with petrol and throw him into his burning shack.

"The screams of the burning Mozambican still haunt me. When I close my eyes to try to sleep, I see the man screaming for help. But no-one helps him," she said.

"I have never seen such barbarism."


The director general of South Africa's National Intelligence Agency, Manala Manzini, said on Thursday that the attacks were unleashed by movements that supported the apartheid government.

The unnamed groups had delivered weapons to hostels in the townships, he said.

Correspondents say he is believed to be referring to the Inkatha Freedom Party, whose members are mainly Zulus. It has denied any role in the violence.

Foreign population: 3-5m
Majority from Zimbabwe, also Mozambique, Nigeria
Total population: 49m
Unemployment rate: 30%

Mr Manzini's comments were echoed by the minister of intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils, who said there were groups that had what he called their own political agenda.

"There was organisation... we have names of people who called meetings," he said.

The secretary general of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), Kgalema Motlanthe, has said that many of the immigrants were able to get jobs in South Africa because they were better qualified than locals, whose education was disrupted by apartheid.

He said this was a cause of envy from South Africans, who needed to acquire the skills that would enable them to make a living.

The violence began on 11 May in a township north of Johannesburg, before spreading to the city and the surrounding region.

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific