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Fifty dead, 35,000 displaced in SA violence

Latest update : 2008-05-25

South Africa's ruling ANC party held public rallies and meetings in an attempt to end the xenophobic violence that recent figures report have killed 50 and displaced 35,000 people.

JOHANNESBURG, May 25 (Reuters) - Leaders of South Africa's
ruling ANC held rallies and public meetings on Sunday to try to
end xenophobic violence that has killed at least 50 African
migrants and displaced tens of thousands.

"This programme will involve all levels of the organisation
in a decisive and concerted campaign to mobilise across society
to address this crisis," the African National Congress said in a

ANC leader Jacob Zuma will speak in Springs, east of
Johannesburg, one of the flashpoints for a wave of anti-migrant
riots that began two weeks ago.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who is the former wife of Nelson
Mandela, will speak at a separate meeting. Cyril Ramaphosa and
Toyko Sexwale, who are prominent businessmen as well as ANC
members, were scheduled to appear at other events.

The campaign was expected to draw community activists and
members of the public.

President Thabo Mbeki, who lost the ANC leadership to Zuma
last year, is scheduled to address the nation later on Sunday --
for the first time since the attacks began.

The ANC government has been criticised for its slow reaction
to the unrest, the worst since apartheid ended 14 years ago, and
for not adequately addressing the poverty widely blamed for
sparking the bloodshed.

Police said shantytowns throughout the country were
relatively peaceful overnight.

"We had a quiet evening last night with no reports of
serious violence. The violence is cooling down now," said Andre
Traut, a spokesman for police in the Western Cape province,
which includes Cape Town.

Traut said large numbers of migrants had already fled into
makeshift refugee camps, where they are being provided blankets,
food and clothing.

More than 25,000 have been driven from their homes across
the nation by mobs who have stabbed, clubbed and burnt migrants,
whom they accuse of taking jobs and fuelling crime. The violence
started in the Alexandra township in Johannesburg on May 11.

Police, backed by the military, were continuing to monitor
trouble spots, especially in shantytowns around Johannesburg.
Earlier this week Mbeki authorised the army to help quell the

The crisis comes amid power shortages and growing discontent
that has rattled investor confidence in Africa's biggest

Officials in the tourism industry, one of the cornerstones
of the economy, are worried that overseas visitors will delay or
cancel trips to the country, which is scheduled to host the 2010
soccer World Cup. An estimated half a million extra tourists are
expected to visit South Africa for the championship.

Date created : 2008-05-25