They claim the immigrants were using the houses as brothels, recruiting young girls as prostitutes and introducing them to drugs.
In the past two weekends, at least 22 houses either belonging or being rented by foreigners were burnt in Rosettenville, south of Johannesburg.
Locals alleged that “drug dens” were mushrooming in the area because of immigrants.
The chairperson of the African Diaspora Forum, Mr Marc Gbaffou, said the situation was tense in Pretoria, adding that immigrants had to close down their businesses and flee as the attacks started early on Saturday.
“The situation is really tense, it’s a repetition of what happened in Rosettenville in the last two weekends. They say they are fighting drugs and prostitution and they are attacking shops belonging to foreign nationals,” Mr Gbaffou said.
No injury had been reported but police were yet to make any arrests.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said they had deployed a number of officers to the area to quell the violence.
Angry residents raided alleged drug dens and brothels on Saturday, burning two houses down as they went door to door in search of drugs.
“It is under control right now. We have deployed quite a number of police in the area to ensure that the violence did not flare up again,” he said.
By late afternoon on Saturday, residents were still walking up and down the streets under heavy police guard, vowing to root out criminality.
Mr Gbaffou said they feared the attacks could be a build up to a march against foreigners scheduled for next Friday.
Treat them fairly
“We are worried because this is a build up to the February 24. These are signs to prepare for this march. It’s possible that after the march people will be attacked,” he said.
Organisers of the February 24 march have vowed to go ahead full steam despite calls to accept foreigners and treat them fairly.
They declared the march would not be called off despite some foreigners contributing to the economy of the communities they lived in.
A peaceful protest
Most of those targeted were from Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.
The Gauteng Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) for Community Safety, Ms Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, condemned the violence and damage to property in Pretoria West.
“Community members went on a rampage destroying properties belonging to alleged drug dealers and brothel owners in the area. So far, two properties belonging to foreign nationals have been burned,” Ms Nkosi said in a statement.
“It is a constitutional right for members of our communities to organise themselves and engage in a peaceful protest but once that right is violated by burning and vandalising of properties it becomes a crime,” she added.