SABC News, 20 May 2008

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The International Community Unifiers (ICU) has advised immigrants who have businesses in Gauteng not to open them for trading until the xenophobia-related attacks have stopped. The ICU took the decision at a meeting held in Braamfontein today. The ICU believes that security is inadequate around businesses operated by foreigners, making it unwise and dangerous to conduct normal business. The organisation says they went on an observer mission to the East Rand yesterday, where they found a complete neglect of the security of foreign nationals. They say today saw several attacks on foreign-owned shops in downtown Johannesburg, and that the police were stretched too thin to deal with the situation. Despite South African government officials insisting that the police have got the situation under control, the ICU says they are seeing an escalation of violence. They are therefore advising immigrants to close shop for the foreseeable time being until there is some semblance of normality. The ICU is presently in an urgent meeting in Braamfontein with the leadership of various foreign nationals to discuss a peaceful means of response to the xenophobic violence. Foreign nationals living in Yeoville and Hillbrow in Johannesburg have instituted a self-imposed curfew following widespread violence against foreign nationals in the city and surrounding areas. The foreign nationals, who are mostly political refugees, say they are too afraid to roam the streets or go to work. Many of them have closed their businesses since yesterday as violent xenophobic attacks spread like wild-fire, severely affecting the eastern parts of the city.