July 20 (Reuters) – South African residents have attacked migrants from African countries in a Johannesburg township, injuring at least five people and increasing concerns of a wave of xenophobia after the soccer World Cup.
Local media said four of those injured at Kya Sands were from Zimbabwe and Mozambique. The fifth was a South African who said his attackers refused to believe he was a local.
Tensions have long been building between South Africans and millions of foreign migrants they accuse of taking jobs and homes, but open animosity appeared to be put on hold during the World Cup as South Africa showed its best face to the world.
A spate of attacks on foreign workers in 2008 killed 62 people and damaged investor confidence. Another wave could wreck the positive image that Africa’s biggest economy was able to portray during the soccer tournament.
Running battles erupted late on Monday at Kya Sands after a robbery inside the township sparked anger between locals and foreigners, the Eye Witness News website said. It took police several hours to quell the unrest.
Eye Witness News said two men had deep cuts to their heads. One said he had been attacked with an axe. A woman was carried out on her husband’s back, saying she had failed to outrun a mob and had been kicked in the chest.
Foreign migrants are estimated to make up more than 10 percent of South Africa’s population of about 49 million. Many are Zimbabweans who fled economic collapse at home.