The government has condemned the crime.
The police in South Africa confirmed on Wednesday that scores of shops owned by Pakistani, Bangladesh and Chinese nationals were vandalised and looted in Mthatha, Eastern Cape Province.
Mzukisi Fatyela, the police spokesperson, said in Cape Town that it was the latest round of xenophobia attacks in South Africa.
He said the attacks might be blamed on a local union “the Amandla Wethu Workers’ Union’’ (AWWU) which said its members had to work long hours in the shops and were underpaid.
Mr. Fatyela said there was no immediate report on injuries as a contingent of police had been dispatched to the area to monitor the situation.
The government had said it would not tolerate such criminal activities as such acts would impact negatively on the country’s economy and image.
Luzuko Gebhu, AWWU President, said the shop-owners did not comply with the laws of the country.
He said they paid some of the people just 18 dollars a week, of which there was no minimum rate for South Africans to pay shop workers.
“People want to voice their discontent with the government that people are suffering on ground level.
“We are not attacking the foreign nationals, we want them to do the right thing in South Africa,” he added.
China agency, Xinhua, reports that most of the foreign nationals who had their shops looted claimed they didn’t know what the attacks were all about.
It quoted a witness as saying looting was still going on as more than 100 locals were picketing in the area.
It said xenophobia attacks were common in South Africa, particularly in Eastern Cape and Gauteng Provinces.
It said recently there had been an increase in xenophobia attacks on foreigners, including refugees and asylum-seekers.