Thupeyo Muleya, Lovemore Mataire and Nyemudzai Kakore
The repatriation of over 1 000 Zimbabweans displaced in escalating xenophobic attacks in Durban is expected to start tomorrow, the country’s envoy to South Africa, Isaac Moyo has said.
In an interview on Thursday, Ambassador Moyo said they had already arranged repatriation documents for over 1 000 Zimbabweans in the coastal city.
The attacks, spread across Durban and Johannesburg have displaced 2 000 foreigners and 800 Zimbabweans.
Ambassador Moyo said South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs would transport the victims to Zimbabwe via Beitbridge Border Post who will be handed over to the Civil Protection Unit at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
As of Thursday they had documented 500 more victims at a new camp in the Werina area, he said.
“Identification and the processing of repatriation documents have already been done.
He said they had visited some of the deserted houses in Durban where signs of rigorous ransacking were visible, with some property burnt.
“We are seized with the issue of documenting people and providing them with food and shelter. We will verify the issue of deaths tomorrow (today).”
Ambassador Moyo said the situation around Durban was calm following an anti-xenophobia march by over 4 000 people who included religious and the KwaZulu Natal leaders.
He said the majority of Zimbabweans were interested in coming back.
“We have had assurance from the host government that the situation is now calm, but people are still sceptical because the attacks are perpetrated during the night.”
He said they were working to resolve the plight of undocumented South African women who were willing to travel with their Zimbabwean husbands.
The assistant regional immigration officer in charge of Beitbridge Border Post, Mr Notius Tarisai said they were yet to receive those victims who had voluntarily come home.
South African police say 74 people have been arrested in connection with the disturbances.
Meanwhile, Zanu-PF has called for the immediate cessation of attacks on foreigners saying the continued violence makes a mockery of the persistent calls for unity in the Sadc region.
National spokesperson Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo said the attacks were an antithesis of the good relations existing between Zimbabwe and South Africa recently cemented by the signing of various economic agreements by the two countries.
“Zanu-PF is alarmed by the xenophobic violence perpetrated on foreign nationals including hundreds of Zimbabweans living in South Africa. Our President, Cde RG Mugabe recently concluded a successful State visit to South Africa where a number of important agreements to advance our economies were signed.”
He said South Africa has an obligation enshrined within the Vienna Declaration to ensure that it safeguards lives of all foreigners within its borders.
Regional and local civic groups roundly condemned the attacks.
Women Coalition of Zimbabwe co-ordinator Ms Sally Dura said that the current spate of attacks must be stopped.
“We denounce these barbaric acts; and we encourage our governments to ACT!
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum urged President Mugabe as Sadc and AU chairperson to take urgent measures to rescue Zimbabwean citizens and African nationals whose lives are in danger.
“Whether the on-going xenophobic violence is a result of statements by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini on March 21 or are criminal acts by few individuals, the Government of South Africa must take decisive actions to deal with xenophobia and to guarantee security for all foreign nationals in South Africa.
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) party youths said they were saddened by the events and called upon President Zuma to put mechanisms to quell the violence.
“We count on our special relationship and call upon the South African President to be a true friend to us and fellow African governments in this critical moment. We call upon you to offer safety nets to the victims and the targeted so-called foreigners,” said spokesperson Mr Terence Maoneke.
MDC Renewal spokesperson Jacob Mafume said it was ironic that South Africa was failing to protect people within its borders at a time when its clamouring to be in the United Nations Security Council.
“The narrow world view that is being exhibited in this instance has no place in a post-Mandela South Africa.”
The Sadc Council of NGOs in a statement urged regional leaders to act: “The events have erupted from simmering anger and hostility in South Africa as people lash out in violence against other Africans for what they perceive as the advantages they enjoy.”