Thabo Mbeki, the South African president, has ordered the army to deploy troops to quell violence against foreigners.
This marks the first time for the South African army to combat violence in the streets since the end of apartheid in 1994.
The attacks on immigrants began last week, costing the lives of more than 42 people and 16,000 displaced.
Yvonne Ndege, Al Jazeera's correspondent in South Africa, reports on the violence that is being fuelled by the perception among some poor South Africans, that the immigrants are robbing them of jobs and other scarce resources.
Most of the foreigners have fled from the economic and political turmoil gripping Zimbabwe. Others are from Mozambique, with more than 3,000 of them having already left South Africa.