South Africa’s High Court on Wednesday in Johannesburg halted the deportation of hundreds of African immigrants who were arrested in the wake of the recent wave of xenophobic violence.

David Cote, the lawyer for Human Rights Organisation, that the migrants, believed to number between 280 and 400, were detained at a Johannesburg Church and in the central business district on Friday.

He said a court order was obtained on Tuesday to halt their deportation for two weeks and to gain access to them to discuss their situation.

Cote said, “The court order does not concern hundreds of others who have been arrested in Johannesburg and Durban in recent weeks.

“We don’t know if any of them have already been deported, but it will obviously be difficult for the government to deport such a large number of people.”

He criticised the arrest as an “inappropriate response” to xenophobic attacks on immigrants from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Congo and other countries in April.

“At least, seven people were killed and thousands left homeless and foreign-owned shops looted,” he said.

Cote said South African government was responding to concerns about the presence of illegal immigrants, stressing, however, that “some of those arrested are asylum seekers.”

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