Horror conditions for Zimbabweans living in SA Nyathi family members clean the spot where Elvis was brutally burnt to death in Diepsloot Ext 1, northern Johannesburg.

Dr Masimba Mavaza

A sad story from South Africa. They whipped me, stole my only R50 and burnt my husband to death: Elvis Nyathi’s widow bares all.

She sat on a sofa trembling with fear and anger as a dark cloud of uncertainty hovered around Diepsloot, a township in Johannesburg.

South Africans in this area and other towns are protesting against high crime rate in the country and blaming it on illegal migrants.

Surprisingly the South Africans singled out Zimbabweans as the chief perpetrators of crime. What have we done to these people?

One of the Zimbabweans killed in South Africa last Wednesday is 43-year-old foreign gardener, Elvis Nyathi, who left Zimbabwe in 2016 hoping for a better future.

The grass always looks greener on the other side and Nyathi had higher expectations.

Most Zimbabweans live in fear in South Africa as foreigners are being killed.

This is sad when neighbours treat each other like that.

The ongoing Afro phobic attacks popularly known as Operation Dubula are a threat to many foreigners in South Africa, Zimbabweans included.

Nyathi’s wife, Nomsa Tshuma, also a Zimbabwean, witnessed the event which lead to the death of her husband.

Tshuma’ s detailed account of the murder left many people emotionally affected.

She said the attackers came while they were watching TV. They heard people shouting demanding identification documents.

Visibly shaken and sobbing softly Nomsa said: “We were in a friend’s shack watching Uzalo on TV when we heard people knocking next door shouting ‘ID! Passport!’.

“We decided to run away because Nyathi did not have an ID or a passport and I’m the only one who had a passport. I decided to go with him.

“We ran past some shacks and hid in a passage, just the three of us. We hid there and heard people coming into the yard, waking up our neighbours,” she said.

Tshuma said her husband fled while she returned to the shack.

As she denied knowledge of the possession of a gun, Tshuma said she was repeatedly whipped. The men then asked her for R300.

“I told them I was unemployed and I only had R50 on me. They took the money and left,” she said.

It was not until later that she got a call from a friend telling her that Nyathi was burnt by the mob to death.

Tshuma’s friend narrated the horror she experienced that night.

“I still think it’s dream or a nightmare and I hope to wake up from it. Nyathi told us to run. I stood up and started running. The mob was in hot pursuit.

“They came closer to Nyathi whom they knocked down. I heard him groan with pain as he hit the ground with a thud.

“They started beating him up as if they were beating a snake. One of them who claimed to be in charge shouted for some wires and petrol. They poured petrol on him and set him on fire,” she said.

Nyathi died as Tshuma’s friend watched helplessly.

This writer wrote to the South African president Cyril  Ramaphosa’s aide Mr Eric Ravhandala demanding answers.

“How does killing your own black brothers be said to be peace? How does looting people’s things be peaceful? Why are the South Africans only killing blacks? Why not killing all foreigners? Xenophobia cannot be defended.

“Violence on blacks against blacks is witchcraft.  You should bury your head in the sand my brother. Remember what goes around will come around” read the letter.

Eric Ravhandala then responded and this is a discussion for another day.

Another Zimbabwean gave her account “A mob of over 20 people came to my house. I stay in a house not a shack. They demanded to see my passport. I was shaking, I actually felt my bowels opening. I could not walk my body was soaked in sweat.

“My wife gave them our passports. They did not even know what to look for in the passport. They then demanded that I give them money to feed those of doing a good job of ‘cleaning South Africa’.

“I had only R500. They took it but before they left the took turns to beat me up with open fists. They left me bleeding from the mouth. After few minutes I heard my neighbour who is Zambian screaming in pain. I was so scared I could not even stand up. I later was told my neighbour was taken away by the mob. I am not sure if he is dead or not,” he said.

Makina (not his real name) has since left South Africa to return back home to Zimbabwe.

The events in South Africa are so disheartening and surely demonic.

The bloodthirsty attitude of the South Africans against Zimbabweans exposes the lack of wisdom and stupidity engulfing some South Africans.

The way fellow Africans have suffered at the hands of the black South Africans shows the ignorance and the most shocking ungratefulness among them.

This is a tragic failure of South African nationalism.

Africa deserves better and Africa must show the South Africans that they are neither demigods nor masters. No country survives on its own.

It  is unbelievable that human beings would take such sadistic pleasure in seeing someone’s sorrow and mental anguish. Humiliating fellow Africans like this shows a lower standard of humanity!

South Africans through such groups as the Dubula seek to blame the foreigners for their political failures.

Their accusations of the foreigners become a trigger which switches on the wave of hatred and cruelty against humanity. South Africa has become a shame and an embarrassment to all humanity.

The carnage witnessed in the South African towns and highways aimed and perpetrated against other Africans is demonic.

As expected the world is silent like always. If the issue is about the Africans against themselves, it is of no consequence and is best ignored.

The most painful thing is that we make things worse for ourselves.

The murder rate in South Africa increased rapidly towards the end of apartheid, reaching a peak in 1993.

It then decreased until bottoming out at 30 per 100 000 in 2011, but steadily increased again to 38 per 100 000 in 2019. More than 526 000 South Africans were murdered from 1994 to 2019.

Of all solved murder cases, only 5 percent of murders were committed by foreigners and 95 percent was committed by the South Africans themselves.

South African men have taken the lead in rape cases and sexual abuse.

In the first quarter, the sub- categories of crimes such as contact crimes, sexual offences, aggravated robberies, contact-related and property-related crimes have recorded a never seen before double-digit increases.

Overally, contact crimes increased by 60.6 percent compared to the same period last year.

The top four causative factors of these murders are arguments, robberies, mob justice incidents and gang-related killings.

According to South African government, of all the arrested rapists ,one twentieth were foreigners.

So statistics are clear that the number of foreigners committing crimes in South Africa is insignificant as compared to the local criminals.

The tag being put on foreigners as criminals is wrong and xenophobic.

To get through the challenges of the 21st century, we are going to need to learn to overcome racism and bigotry. The way the South Africans are behaving makes us wonder if bigotry is in their DNA, a remnant of our fear of “the other” way back when that was necessary?

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