At least 600 foreign nationals were arrested by police on Wednesday, according to South African media. As part of the targeted search operation in the city of Johannesburg, police also confiscated firearms and a “jackpot” of counterfeit goods in various buildings.
David Makhura, Prime Minister of the Gauteng province that includes Johannesburg, tweeted that the operation is part of a “clean-up” operation. “We are cleaning up our business center. We will not rest until we regain control of our city. We are sending a very strong message to all those who think they can occupy our buildings illegally,” said Makhura with the hashtag #OkaeMolao.
He said the authorities were satisfied with the number of suspects arrested, according to the South African newspaper The Citizen. “The main problem is that people who drive taxis without a permit are not supposed to be on our roads,” said the prime minister, quoted by the newspaper.
For some South Africans, the operation called O Kae Molao does not encourage xenophobia in a country where violence against foreigners has been repeatedly reported.
“Some foreign nationals who sell counterfeit goods and illegally occupy buildings in the Joburg district attacked our police with bottles and petrol bombs”.
“This heinous crime against our state will never be tolerated. # OkaeMolao will respond in force to defend the rule of law,” suggested the Premier of Gauteng province.