KAMPALA: South African High Commission officials in Kampala have apologized for the ongoing anti-immigrant xenophobia protests that have rocked two major towns of Durban and Johannesburg.

The Counsellor, Political Affairs at the High Commission, Wendy Swartz, addressing journalists today (Saturday) morning said considering the amount of hospitality rendered to South Africa by the rest of African countries especially Uganda in recent years there is no excuse for what is happening.

“We apologise to Uganda, and we apologise to the rest of Africa,” Ms Swartz said at the briefing held at the Foreign Affairs ministry headquarters.

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She added that, although there have not yet been official statement from her government about compensating victims of the xenophobic protests, the matter “will certainly be taken forward.”

Six people have been so far confirmed dead, scores injured and property destroyed after protests broke out on Tuesday, first in the Kwa-Zulu Natal provincial capital of Durban and later spread out to the Guateng provincial capital of Johannesburg on Thursday.

The protests are engineered by jobless South Africans accuse foreign African workers of taking their jobs. Unemployment according to official statistics is believed to be around 25 percent.

On Tuesday, shop and stores belonging to Ethiopians and Somalians in Durban were looted and torched.

Ms Swartz, said, security in the flashpoints of the protests has been put on the 24 hour basis, and perpetrators will be arrested and brought to book. “We have also established emergency relief centers working closely with UNHCR to help victims.”

According to South African Police, 112 people have been arrested throughout KwaZulu Natal over the protests.

The Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Foreign Affairs James Mugume, said they are closely monitoring the situation working closely with Uganda’s High Commission in Pretoria.

“We continue to work closely with our South African counterparts to get updates of the situation, so far reports indicate that calm has returned to the most affected areas,” Ambassador Mugume said. “We welcome the strong stand taken by President Zuma and the government of South Africa against acts of xenophobia towards foreigners of African origin.”

He said they set up an inter-ministerial crisis team comprised of security agencies, Foreign Affairs and Office of Prime Minister to work out “scenario planning” and contact the leadership of Ugandan communities in South Africa.

The PS said so far there are no reports of any Ugandans killed or attacked during the protests.

About 200,000 Ugandans are believed to be in South Africa and majority engaged in the informal sector.

President Jacob Zuma on Friday condemned the attacks and said immigrants contribute to the nation’s economy while others bring scarce skills.

editorial@eagle.co.ug