Thupeyo Muleya in DURBAN and Innocent Ruwende in Beitbridge
The second batch of 333 Zimbabweans who were displaced by xenophobic attacks in Durban, South Africa, will leave for Zimbabwe this morning in a convoy of three buses and a truck. These are part of 2 500 people from different countries who sought refuge at the Phoenix Camp following overnight attacks on African immigrants in the Ntomba area of Durban.
Zimbabwe’s Consul-General to South Africa Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro said the repatriation documents had been processed by both the embassy and the Home Affairs department.
“We have processed documents for all our people and they will leave at 8m tomorrow (Thursday) in three buses and one truck that will carry their luggage,” he said.
“The sorting out of their documents had been temporarily shelved as the Home Affairs department was clearing immigrants from Mozambique and Malawi. We are very grateful for the corporation and assistance we are getting from businessmen in Durban and the South African government in providing shelter to our people.”
Mr Mukonoweshuro said though the situation was now calm in Durban, people were still cautious.
He said a lot of immigrants had shown enthusiasm in going home though a few had indicated they still need to collect their salaries and properties.
“People are really excited to go home after spending several days at the camps. It was the same case with Malawian and Mozambican immigrants,” said Mr Mukonoweshuro.
Government started evacuating displaced immigrants from South Africa on Sunday with the first batch of 407 which had been staying at the Chatsworth camp arriving in Zimbabwe on Monday evening.
The victims are being transported in Government-hired transport via Beitbridge Border Post where they are being handed over to the Civil Protection Unit for onward transmission and integration to their respective homes.
They are also given post trauma counselling upon arrival in Zimbabwe.
There were reports of more xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg yesterday although the Zimbabwean embassy said no Zimbabwean has volunteered to be repatriated from that area.
“A few cases of xenophobic attacks have been reported in Johannesburg, but as of now no displaced Zimbabwean has volunteered to be repatriated,” said Zimbabwe ambassador to South Africa, Mr Isaac Moyo.
Labour and Social Services permanent secretary Mr Ngoni Masoka, who is leading a committee comprising several stakeholders, including the police, immigration department, Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, said logistics were in place to welcome the second batch of returnees.
“We are learning from our first experience,” he said in an interview in Beitbridge yesterday. “We had some pitfalls which we must improve on, but generally things went on well with the first group.
“We talked about people going missing in Musina while we were feeding them,” he said. “We have to avoid such situations and be able to account for all the people who get on to the buses. Lots of stop overs increase work for the security team, hence we should avoid that.”
Mr Masoka said Government was going to beef up personnel to ensure that paper work was completed in time and avoid delaying transportation of the immigrants to their homes from the reception centre at the border post.
Principal immigration officer for Beitbridge Mr Innocent Hamandishe said they would engage their counterparts in South Africa to avoid unnecessary delays after the first group of immigrants spent four hours at the South African side of the border.
“We are going to meet them at the South African border to make sure we speed up the process,” he said. “Last time, the people had no repatriation certificates.”
Ministry of Health and Child Care officials said most immigrants were suffering from pneumonia because the places where they were being kept in South Africa were not habitable as the ground was wet.
They said other common ailments were injuries, running stomachs, abdominal discomfort and septic lacerations.
Meanwhile, a Zimbabwean couple who were shot and wounded by a mob of South Africans during fresh xenophobia motivated attacks on Tuesday are reported to be out of danger.
The man, Proud Ncube (33), has since been discharged from hospital, Zimbabwe’s Consul-General Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro, said yesterday.
He said Ncube was shot in the chest and the bullet went out through the back while on a visit to his girlfriend, Sandile Moyo (22) in Alexandra, Johannesburg. (In our issue yesterday we reported the two as Ms Proud Ncube and Mr Innocent Sibanda. We have since been told these are alias names.)
The woman was shot through the mouth and on the right arm, but the bullet missed her tongue.
“Our embassy staff visited the two at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital to check on them physically. They are now in a stable condition,” said Mr Mukonoweshuro.
“Ncube was discharged from hospital and he is being treated as an outpatient from his house in Thembisa suburb.”
Mr Mukonoweshuro said the two were shot with shotguns and robbed of cellphones and money by the mob.
The shooting and the killing of a Mozambican national in the same area has forced the South African government to deploy soldiers to volatile parts of Johannesburg and KwaZulu Natal.
Emmanuel Sithole, the Mozambican, was stabbed to death by four South African men over the weekend in broad-day light, while other residents watched.
The four killers appeared in court yesterday and are still in custody.
Reports indicated yesterday that at least seven people have been killed in the ongoing anti-immigrant violence in South Africa, targeting only Africans.