Violence broke out as members of the uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) and the People's Revolutionary Movement protested for a second straight day in Durban on Tuesday, November 3. Protesters clashed with police as they tried to force foreign-owned businesses to close. The demonstrators accuse foreign nationals of dominating employment sectors such as mining and textiles. They also accuse them of selling drugs and orchestrating other criminal acts. Police reportedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.
Further protests are likely in Durban over the near term and are likely to be accompanied by localized transport disruptions and further clashes between demonstrators and security forces.
South Africa has long been prone to waves of anti-immigrant sentiment and xenophobic violence. The opening of the country's borders in the early 1990s prompted an influx of migrants, mostly from other African countries. However, high unemployment rates and a stagnant economy have led to tensions between local and foreign nationals, which have sporadically escalated into attacks on foreign-owned businesses and rioting. Violent unrest, mostly in townships but occasionally in central areas of urban centers such as Durban and Johannesburg, has left dozens of people dead and thousands displaced, with the government criticized for its perceived inability or reluctance to decisively address the issue. Outbreaks of xenophobic violence in South Africa also have the potential to generate reprisals in neighboring countries.
Those in Durban are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, plan alternative routes if traveling, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities. Travelers encountering a protest or roadblock should never attempt to drive through it, as such actions may provoke a violent response from demonstrators, including attacks on vehicles.
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