Zuma to visit townships in SA

Published on Saturday 24th May 2008

Somalia: The leader of South Africa's governing ANC is to visit some of the townships around Johannesburg hit by a wave of violence against foreigners.

Jacob Zuma's move is part of attempts to stop the violence, in which at least 50 have been killed and 25,000 forced from their homes across the country.

Correspondents say this will be the highest-profile visit to areas where the trouble began almost two weeks ago.

It comes amid criticism of President Thabo Mbeki's response to the crisis.

Apart from a promise to create an investigating committee to look into the problem and a brief statement to national radio on Saturday, Mr Mbeki has yet to publicly engage in the crisis.

One government critic, Moeletsi Mbeki - the president's own brother - said the government was unwilling to admit that the violence is the result of the failure of its own foreign and immigration policies.

The troubles flared with a wave of attacks on foreigners in the township of Alexandra, within sight of some of Johannesburg's most expensive suburbs.

They have since spread to seven of South Africa's nine provinces.

On Sunday police said 50 people were now believed to have been killed since the troubles began.

Meanwhile, a Cape Town spokesman said at least 10,000 immigrants had fled to makeshift camps outside the south-western city alone.

In Johannesburg, the ANC said delegations from the party's national executive committee - including Mr Zuma - were fanning out to community halls and stadia across the city in what it called a "programme of engagement" to stem the tide of violence.