Spaza shop South Africa
Locals targeted so-called 'spaza' shops owned by foreigners in Dunoon, Cape Towngetty images

Xenophobic attacks have occurred in South Africa's Dunoon township in Cape Town. Locals looted shops owned by foreigners, prompting people to flee the area on the night of 17 April. It is also believed some protesters prevented residents from going to work and school on 18 April. Local police blocked some roads while some train and bus services were briefly disrupted, according to News 24.

Eye Witness News reported the situation was now calm, but security forces were still patrolling the area. At least 12 people have been arrested in connection to the violence that damaged several shops, known as 'spaza', convenience stores usually run from home.

The reason behind the attacks is unknown. However, some reports alleged the violence might be related to a protest occurred earlier this month, when locals took to the streets to protest over perceived lack of services in the area.

This is not the first time that xenophobic attacks have occurred in South Africa. In October 2015, at least 500 people – mainly Zimbabweans, Somalis, Nigerians and Pakistanis – fled their homes in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape after a surge of xenophobic violence in the area.

Earlier in 2015, South Africans targeted foreigners accusing them of stealing jobs and opportunities in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal province. At least five people were killed and thousands displaced , prompting the country to deployed its army to help police curb the violence.

The deployment followed the fatal stabbing of immigrant Emmanuel Sithole. Pictures of him pleading for his life before being killed were published by local newspapers, provoking anger.