Anti-foreigner riots in South Africa

A mob chant at police, unseen, near a squatter settlement east of Johannesburg, Monday, 19 May 2008, in an attempt to quell anti-foreigner violence which has erupted in and around the city
A mob chants at police, unseen, near a squatter settlement east of Johannesburg, 19 May 2008, in an attempt to quell anti-foreigner violence which has erupted in and around the city

A wave of xenophobic attacks spread through South African townships on Monday. At least 22 people have been killed since unrest started last week.

Below is a timeline of the troubles and facts and figures on some of the issues at play.

TIMELINE:

May 11 – A mob attacks a group of immigrants in Alexandra township outside Johannesburg, killing two and injuring 40.

May 15 – Police fire rubber bullets to quell anti-foreigner violence in Diepsloot, another township near Johannesburg, where youths threw stones, set up barricades and looted shops.

May 18 – Violence spreads to other areas, including the Johannesburg city centre. Among the dead are five people killed in the Cleveland area of Johannesburg, local media say. At least one immigrant is burned to death.

May 19 – Two people are killed and dozens of shacks are torched in the Tembisa township near Johannesburg. Police say at least 19 people have been killed since May 16.

ISSUES:

UNEMPLOYMENT – Africa’s biggest economy grew an average of 5 percent for the past four years, but a post-apartheid boom has failed to make a big dent in unemployment, around 23 percent.

IMMIGRATION – The number of immigrants from other African countries has been estimated at up to 5 million with over 3 million from Zimbabwe alone. The total population is nearly 50 million.

POVERTY – Life expectancy at birth is less than 51 years. The latest U.N. Human Development Report ranks South Africa at 121 of 177 countries.

CRIME – South Africa has some of the highest rates of murder and rape in the world. There were 19,202 murders in South Africa in 2006/7, over 52,000 reported rapes and over 80,000 robberies.

Sources: Reuters/South African Police/UNHDP:

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