The South African government has been tasked to take strong action against its citizens involved in a recent flare-up of xenophobic violence in the country.

Two human rights groups are calling for urgent investigations, arrests and prosecutions of persons believed to be behind the attacks that lasted about a week, March 25  to April 2, 2019.

South Africa-based African Diaspora Forum and Human Rights Watch, HRW, said the government needed to do more than just condemning the attacks.

President Cyril Ramaphosa expressly condemned the attacks as did the leader of the opposition EFF, Julius Malema. The groups said they were even more so concerned that the violence came amid rising political tension as South Africa goes to the polls on May 8.

“Re-integration of foreign nationals into communities without justice and accountability for past xenophobic attacks is a recipe for disaster.

“To deter those who attack foreign nationals, there is an urgent need for effective policing, arrests, and prosecutions,” said Dewa Mavhinga, southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Vusumuzi Sibanda, chairperson at the African Diaspora Forum also said: “Apart from its call for an end to attacks on foreign nationals, the South African government has done little to ensure the arrest and prosecution of those responsible.

“Strong action is needed to show there are consequences for such acts before there is another round of violence against vulnerable foreign nationals.”