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A Soweto hostel resident has told police that he was paid to carry out the attacks on foreign nationals in the township.
The man was arrested with six others who looted houses belonging to those they believed were foreign nationals in White City, Jabavu, on Sunday night.
This was the first indication that a third force could have a hand in fanning hatred for foreigners and inflaming xenophobic attacks in Gauteng.
Police were not revealing much about the man's claims, saying that he was being questioned. They could not say who paid the man and how much he received.
Police spokesman Captain Mpande Khoza confirmed that the man had made the startling claims but was sketchy with the details, saying the man was still being questioned.
"He had told the police that he was paid to carry the attacks. We do not know at this stage who hired him. We are still questioning them."
Khoza said another seven men were arrested in White City Jabavu for looting houses.
Police Crime Intelligence spokesman, Tumi Golding, said there were no indications that the attacks were organised from a central point.
"We treat these attacks as criminal acts; our members are part of all types of investigations," said Golding.
The violence which had claimed the lives of 22 people since last week, had been spreading like wild fire in Gauteng townships.
The Soweto police, however, also issued a stern warning to against anyone who dared to mount xenophobic attacks in the township. They said they would do everything in their power to prevent large scale black-on-black violence.
In the 1990s a third force element was responsible for black-on-black attacks that claimed the lives of thousands of people in the townships.
Councillor Zodwa Nxumalo said: "It hurts to see people losing their belongings. We are not xenophobic in our country and I do not know where these attackers come from. We urge the police to keep the man who claims he was paid in jail until he tells them the truth and shows them who his boss is."
Basani Sondlane, a Tsonga-speaking South African, whose RDP house was looted, said she was alerted by her neighbours that Nancefield Hostel dwellers were coming.
"The only thing I am left with is my identity document. My house has been cleaned out. They took everything."
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