JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African authorities say they have arrested about 750 immigrants staying illegally in this country, prompting rights groups on Tuesday to criticize the sweep for alleged violations that include preventing detainees from seeing lawyers.
The nationwide police raids at the end of April and the beginning of May followed violence against immigrants in parts of Johannesburg and Durban. Seven people died, the South African government said.
While South African officials condemned the violence, they have also sought to address complaints that some immigrants are living illegally in South Africa and taking jobs and other opportunities that should go to South Africans.
A South Africa-based group, Lawyers for Human Rights, on Tuesday obtained a court order to halt any deportations for two weeks and allow foreigners arrested during the raids to get access to legal representation.
The raids send a contradictory message and criminalize immigrants, according to rights groups.
Television images of the raids have shown police lining people up against walls while searching for stolen goods and illegal drugs.