By Nqobile Tshili
Zimbabweans living in South Africa are safe following a spate of attacks and looting of foreign owned shops by locals in the neighbouring country this week, a senior official has said.
In an interview yesterday, Zimbabwe Consul General to South Africa Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro said Zimbabweans based in the neighbouring country were safe from the raids as they do not own similar shops.
South African media on Wednesday reported that locals were looting from shops owned by foreigners, accusing them of selling sub-standard goods.
“These (raids) had to do with foreigners who own shops and Zimbabweans are not in that trade. It’s mostly Somalis and Ethiopians who run the spaza shops. Our Zimbabweans are not in that trade. It’s to do basically with those shop owners,” said Mr Mukonoweshuro.
“Recent reports have stated that disturbing items are found when raids are being done in these shops. They make counterfeit goods that are not safe for human consumption. So I think that could have triggered the anger of some of the local communities resulting in the raids.”
However, he said, a handful of Zimbabweans were involved in violent armed robbery crimes, tarnishing the reputations of other hard working citizens.
“So far we haven’t heard any disturbing issues in terms of the way they (Zimbabweans) are conducting themselves. We have had a few robbery cases, people being involved in cash heists and robberies here and there. But those are the bad apples that are spoiling the good name of the country,” Mr Mukonoweshuro said.
He said the biggest challenge for some Zimbabweans living in South Africa is that they are undocumented and do not have work permits.
Mr Mukonoweshuro said those who qualify under the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits should ensure that their papers are in order prior to the October 31 submission deadline.
“It’s a known rule that there is no permit that is given on an expired passport. All those whose passports have expired or are about to expire should endeavour to apply for the emergency passport so that they give them to Home Affairs. This is because the process is to be done before October 31 this year and they have to make sure that those passports are with Home Affairs before that time if they want to be involved in the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits,” he said.
Mr Mukonoweshuro said those facing challenges should contact the consulate on WhatsApp number +27110373400 or Email them on address [email protected]