Scores of De Doorns residents, most of them farmworkers, ripped down shacks belonging to Zimbabweans this morning, accusing them of "stealing our jobs".
The Zimbabwean families were forced to pack up their belongings and seek refuge in a community hall in the Hex River Valley town, which is about two hours from Cape Town.
As residents, armed with sticks and stones, raced through the Ekuphumleni informal settlement tearing down makeshift homes, police fired rubber bullets and used a stun grenade to disperse them.
Angry residents said they wanted the Zimbabweans to leave De Doorns and that local farmers were opting to employ the Zimbabweans ahead of South Africans.
Zimbabwean citizens walk past with their belongings after being displaced in the small town off De Doorns, South Africa, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009. Around two thousand Zimbabwean citizens had to be protected by police as South African citizens attacked foreigners, in a recent Xenophobia incident at De Doorns.
Zimbabwean citizens walk with their belongings after being displaced in the small town off De Doorns, South Africa, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009.
Zimbabwean citizens seen at a community center with their belongings, after being displaced in the small town off De Doorns, South Africa, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2009.
Max visited the township after thousands of foreign nationals fled their homes following a flare-up of xenophobia.
The MEC's spokesperson Julian Jansen said Max had "full confidence" in local officials who settled on a temporary arrangement with locals to leave the foreigners alone.
Jansen said the farmers' association, police and township residents were party to the agreement.
For the moment, many of the 3 500 foreigners will stay in a municipal storeroom next to a police station, Die Burger reported on Tuesday.
The newspaper reported that marquee tents were also being put up on a sports field and farmers have also taken in some people.
De Doorns station commissioner Supt Desmond van der Westhuizen said there were no reports of physical violence against foreigners. He said there were no reports of injuries and no arrests were made.
"Police fired rubber bullets [on Tuesday morning] because of the fact that people tried to dismantle shacks in the area," Van der Westhuizen told Reuters.
Tensions had been building since last week after locals claimed the foreigners - mostly Zimbabweans, as well as some Lesotho nationals - were accepting lower wages than locals and robbing them of jobs.
Van der Westhuizen said 68 foreigners had over the weekend slept at the storeroom following a shebeen fight on Friday night in which Zimbabweans were involved, and rumours that action was to be taken against foreigners.
He earlier told Reuters the situation was "tense but under control".
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe speaks at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters during a food security summit in Rome November 17, 2009.