Saturday, May 24, 2008

Country slowly coming to grips with violence

Well done to the soldier. Shoot on sight I say. Shoot first, ask questions later.

There is no place for more crime in South Africa. The issue of the foreigners is a matter of extreme concern, yes, but attacking innocent people is not the way.

Turn your attention to the real culprits that allowed this mess to arise – the ANC-led axis of evil – and make them pay at the ballot box next year.

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A soldier helping police quell violence against foreigners in South Africa shot and killed a man, the defence force said Saturday.

Police also fired rubber bullets to disperse crowds as sporadic cases of violence and looting were reported across the country in the latest disturbances that have left at least 42 people dead and more than 25,000 foreigners displaced this month.

Brigadier General Kwena Mangope said Saturday that soldiers supporting police east of Johannesburg had seen a man assaulting a woman at a settlement on Friday night.

They approached the man who pointed a gun at the soldier. The soldier fired a shot and killed him, Mangope said. It was not clear whether the assault was related to recent violence or was a domestic dispute.

Mangope said the incident was "unfortunate" and police are investigating.

On Wednesday, Mbeki called in the South African National Defence Force for the first time since the end of apartheid in 1994, following attacks by South Africans who blame immigrants for crime and unemployment.

Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula acknowledged this week that putting soldiers on streets was sensitive since they were trained to kill, not to enforce the law. He said they would only support police, who have made more than 500 arrests linked to the anti-foreigner violence.

The minister was expected to visit various hotspots with a high-level government delegation Saturday. His spokesman said he had no immediate comment Saturday on the killing by a soldier.

The centre of the violence has been the country's smallest but richest province of Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg.

Gauteng provincial police spokesman Govindsamy Mariemuthoo said there were a number of minor incidents overnight on the province's East Rand, which has seen the worst of the violence.

He said police used rubber bullets to disperse crowds but no deaths were reported.

By Friday violence had spread to at least seven of the country's nine provinces as well as the popular tourist destinations of Cape Town and Durban.

A Cape Town police spokesman, Andre Traut, said police had been called to a number of areas overnight to stop looting of shops and help move foreigners.

"But everything is back to normal now and there is no violence," Traut said.

About 200 people have been arrested while about 1,200 people had been displaced in Cape Town, he said.

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