PRETORIA, South Africa is not a xenophobic country and the human rights of all people are respected, President Jacob Zuma has asserted following violent incidents on Friday.

He made the statement following a march on Friday which was initially meant to be a protest against crime but was marred by violence, looting and destruction of property. There have been tensions between South Africans and non-nationals this week in Pretoria and Johannesburg, SA News reports Saturday.

The Head of State has cautioned against labelling the fight against crime as xenophobic, saying South Africans can never be accused of xenophobia as the country has welcomed more immigrants than Europe and had effectively integrated them within all communities across the country.

However, he pointed out that '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 perpetrated by foreign nationals.'

He added the community frustrations are sparked by high levels of criminal activities particularly drugs trafficking, under-aged prostitution and human trafficking which are impacting the youth negatively and are alleged to be perpetrated by the foreign nationals.

Mr. Zuma stressed that the Friday march was also attended by foreign nationals; it was an anti-crime demonstration, not an anti-foreigners protest, and he appealed to South Africans to protest within the confines of the law.

The President reassured all non-South Africans that their rights would always be protected where they live and work according to the laws of South Africa.

President Zuma also appealed to political leaders to refrain from making reckless and irresponsible statements that have the potential of fuelling tensions between South Africans and foreign nationals.

'We urge unity among both our citizens and non-nationals in the fight against crime,' he said.

The President said he had convened a meeting with Ministers in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security and directed them to look at further ways to increase the fight against crime.