Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has asked for an end to violence after attacks against migrants in South Africa.
The king told crowds of thousands at a stadium in Durban that previous reports that he said foreigners should “go back to their countries” were distorted.
He has been accused of fuelling attacks in which at least seven people died.
Hostile sections of the crowd sang songs calling for immigrants to leave and booed a speaker who said foreigners had the right to live in South Africa.
In King Zwelithini’s speech he called recent violence shameful and vile. “We need to make sure no more foreigners are attacked,” he urged.
He said accusations against him of inciting violence were incorrect because the country has only been shown a portion of his speech.
“If it were true that I said foreigners must go, this country would be up in flames,” he added.
More than 300 people have been arrested. Among the latest arrests were three men detained in connection with the murder of a Mozambican national in Alexandra, a township in Johannesburg.
South African President Jacob Zuma has condemned the attacks, saying they “go against everything we believe in”.
With the unemployment rate at 24%, many South Africans accuse foreign nationals of taking jobs from locals.
Official data suggests there are about two million foreign nationals in South Africa, but some estimates put the number much higher.