The ongoing attack on foreign nationals in the country has been addressed by the president on Wednesday; he told officials and business leaders that he was committed to stopping the attacks on foreigners that have threatened to cast a cloud over an economic forum aimed at boosting intra-African trade. Ramaphosa told an event on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Africa three-day summit before it started on Wednesday that “Taking action against people from other nations is not justified and should never be allowed in our beautiful country … We need to quell those incidents of unrest.” Condemning incidents where women had been killed, he said “South Africa must be a country where everyone feels safe, including women and foreign nationals.”

It is still unclear what what prompted the latest round of violence, but analysis  shows that contributing factors include high unemployment and frustration with limited economic opportunities. The conflict has kindled memories of previous deadly attacks on foreigners and strained diplomatic relations with Africa’s other economic powerhouse Nigeria. South African owned businesses in Nigeria such as Shoperite and MTN were forced to close down after they were attcaked by Nigerians in retaliation. Other African countries from Ghana to Ethiopia and regional bloc the African Union have called on Ramaphosa to take action. Artists and citizens from across the continent voiced their anger on social media, with some threatening retaliation.

Colonel Lungelo Dlamini, Police spokesman for Gauteng province said they were “experiencing a dramatic decline in public violence and looting” as the number people arrested on suspicion of involvement in the attacks on foreigners had increased to 289 since Sunday.