The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is calling for swift action against Diepsloot vigilantism.
But the human rights body also warned residents not to take the law into their own hands.
This message comes as the township was rocked by violent protests against alleged inefficient policing last week.
“The Commission calls on the South African Police Service (Saps) and law enforcement agencies to provide the necessary resources to affected communities and ensure residents feel safe and can fully enjoy their basic human rights.
“The Commission reiterates its call on community leaders, politicians, state officials and community leaders from refraining from encouraging ordinary members of communities to take the law into their own hands.
“It is unlawful and highly dangerous to have disparate groups of ordinary community members entering people’s homes and without due process, accusing them of criminality and taking violent, often deadly, action,” said the SAHRC in a statement.
The SAHRC also called for a thorough investigation into Diepsloot vigilantism and the murder of resident Elvis Nyathi, who died allegedly at the hands of a mob after being accused of being an illegal immigrant.
He was beaten, stoned and burnt to death.
“The brutal murder of Elvis Nyathi… is a tragic and outrageous act of vigilantism that must be condemned by all law-abiding people.
“The Commission is deeply concerned by vulnerable groups, especially foreign nationals, being targeted and scapegoated for the prevalence of social ills within communities,” said the SAHRC.
Various individuals including community leaders and groups appear to be stoking flames of xenophobia, by blaming social ills such as crime, poverty and unemployment solely on migrants within South Africa.
Meanwhile, Gauteng Premier David Makhura has warned residents not to take matters into their own hands.
“We can’t support any South African who takes the law into their own hands. You can’t have people moving door to door, saying they are identifying foreign nationals. It is not the job of anybody to do that except law enforcement agencies.
“Once anyone is allowed to do that, innocent people are going to be killed. Even if somebody is in South Africa illegally, they cannot be killed,” said Makhura.
Compiled by Narissa Subramoney