Government cannot ignore allegations that foreigners are committing crimes, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.
"We cannot close our eyes to the concerns of the communities that most of the crimes, such as drug dealing, prostitution, and human trafficking are allegedly perpetuated by foreign nationals," he said in a statement.
Violence broke out during an anti-immigrant march in Pretoria West on Friday morning. Locals looted foreign-owned shops and police fired rubber bullets to disperse the crowds.
On Friday afternoon, acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane said 136 people had been arrested in Pretoria following the violence.
Zuma said he met the ministers of the justice, crime prevention and security cluster in Cape Town and told them to intensify the fight against crime.
"We just cannot co-exist with crime. Criminals, whether they are South Africans or foreign nationals, must be dealt with harshly, but within the ambit of the law."
Zuma appealed to politicians not to make "reckless and irresponsible statements" that could fuel tensions between South Africans and foreigners.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA blamed the ANC and DA for the recent wave of xenophobic violence.
The ANC had been implementing failed economic policies for 23 years, with the DA's support, and the poor were suffering as a result, the union said in a statement.
"Instead of taking out their rage on the government, some of our people resort to hurting the most vulnerable in our communities, namely, women, children, and immigrants." -- News24Suggest a correction