Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, has denied triggering the current xenophobic attacks in South Africa after he was reported last month to have delivered an angry speech blaming immigrants for rising crime and saying they must leave the country.
The attacks have so far led to the death of seven foreigners and forced many out of their homes. Thousands of them have lost their businesses and sources of livelihood.
But speaking on Monday, Zwelithini told a tribal gathering of several thousand Zulus in the port city of Durban that he had been misrepresented.
He said: “This violence directed at our brothers and sister is shameful,” he said.
“My speech… was directed at the police, calling for stricter law enforcement, but that was never reported.
“The public was instead given another side of my speech, which had been twisted and misrepresented.”
South African authorities have struggled to contain mobs in the economic capital Johannesburg and Durban hunting down foreigners.
At least seven people were killed last week and 307 suspects arrested in the worst ethnic violence since 2008, when 62 people were killed mainly in Johannesburg’s townships.