Police in Johannesburg used stun grenades and rubber bullets to battle protesters armed with knives and sticks seeking to drive African migrants out of the city.
Some of the group attacked properties in the South African city’s central business district, according to a police statement. Officers managed to separate the sides in a tense standoff that dragged on into Sunday afternoon. No casualties were immediately reported.
“We have managed to block the people who wanted to go and attack the foreigners,” police spokesman Kay Makhubela said by phone. “We are standing in between the two groups.”
South Africa has seen a series of xenophobic attacks in which foreign-owned shops were looted and burned after a suspected Nigerian drug dealer allegedly shot and killed a South African taxi driver in Pretoria. The anti-foreigner violence marred the lead-up to a World Economic Forum event on Africa last week.
The men on Sunday were part of a group that disrupted a speech by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, president emeritus of the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party, according to the police statement. A splinter group then attacked went on a rampage in downtown Johannesburg.