More than 30 foreign-owned shops were looted last night in two neighbourhoods in South Africa's capital, Pretoria, a police spokesman was quoted by the local Times Live news site as saying.
Bongi Msimango said the looting started in Atteridgeville and spread to the neighbouring Lotus Gardens. Police managed to control the situation and there were no further reports later in the evening.
Some of the owners were in the shops but none were injured. We don't know at this stage why this erupted."
Police did not give the nationalities of those targeted.
The looting comes ahead of a march planned for Friday by the little-known Mamelodi Concerned Residents group against undocumented immigrants in South Africa.
In a flyer, it said: "Companies only employ Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals. Where must South Africans work?
The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference said it had "serious concerns" about the march, and it called on people to show restraint.
One of its senior clerics, Bishop Abel Gabuza, added: We reiterate our call to the government to strengthen border controls. We also call on the intelligence community to devise more effective ways to detect and counter xenophobic violence before it flares up."
Yesterday, Nigeria urged South Africa's government to take decisive action over attacks on its nationals after they were targeted in Pretoria last Saturday.
South Africa has an unemployment rate of about 25 per cent, which is seen as one of the main reasons for the rise in xenophobia since apartheid ended in 1994.