By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) - Police in South Africa on Monday fired stun grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse violent protesters marching against crime in the mining town of Krugersdorp, west of Johannesburg.
The protesters accuse migrants from other African countries of being involved in crimes, such as drug dealing, human trafficking and running brothels in the area. They also accuse police of having turned a blind eye to the crimes, an accusation authorities have strongly denied.
Gauteng provincial police spokesman, Lt-Col. Lungelo Dlamini told Anadolu Agency that protests had been triggered after a victim of kidnapping alleged that she had been abducted by foreigners.
He said protesters had barricaded roads, burned tires and hurled stones at police officers, damaging three police vehicles.
"They also tried to burn a satellite police station in Krugersdorp but it was quickly contained," he added.
Dlamini said the situation was still tense. Several shops belonging to foreigners remained closed on Monday for fear of looting.
Several migrants apparently stayed indoors and others sought asylum at police stations as crowds marched in search of alleged drug dealers.
Marc Gbaffou, chair of the Africa Diaspora Forum, blamed protesters for making generalizations by qualifying all migrants as drug dealers and criminals.
"We are aware that a few migrants are involved in crime. Those should be arrested and prosecuted," he told Anadolu Agency.
Gbaffou claimed that criminal elements among local South Africans were using the protests to loot foreign-owned shops and perpetrate xenophobic attacks.
"What is happening is Krugersdorp today is not different from attacks on migrants that happened last week in the northwest town of Rustenburg. These protests bear all the signs of anti-immigrant violence," he said.
Last week, six buildings housing foreign-owned businesses were set on fire in Rustenburg with protesters claiming they were drug dens and brothels.
Anti-immigrant violence is common in South Africa, which is host to tens of thousands of refugees and migrants from across Africa and other parts of the world.
In 2008, about 60 migrants lost their lives during such violence. In 2015, seven people lost their lives in renewed violence that left hundreds displaced from their homes and businesses.