By Thupeyo Muleya
Government yesterday repatriated 96 Zimbabweans from Gauteng Province, South Africa, as xenophobic attacks in the neighbouring country intensify. The group is part of 171 Zimbabweans who were affected by the disturbances, which have left over 12 people dead, including two Zimbabweans, and displaced hundreds.
Already, the Government has activated the Civil Protection Unit (CPU)to assist the returnees on arrival at Beitbridge Border Post.
The returnees will be helped with social protection issues at the Social Services Department-run Reception and Support Centre, formerly operated by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
The centre has a carrying capacity of around 1 000 people.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, Mr David Hamadziripi, said the returnees had volunteered to be repatriated to their respective homes.
“A total of 171 Zimbabweans were affected and 96 have decided to come home,” he said. “The Government of Zimbabwe paid for their repatriation.”
Sources in South Africa said the group, which had been seeking refuge at Tsolo Hall in the city of Ekurhuleni, had left Gauteng around midday in two buses.
They were expected to arrive in the country via Beitbridge Border Post by last night. “The numbers of those seeking reparation keep fluctuating since many have gone back to their bases,” said a source.
“The repatriation programme is being done by authorities on a voluntary basis.”
The Herald understands that some of the affected Zimbabweans returned to their South African dwellings after police in that country stepped in to quell the violence in some areas, while others have moved to other towns where they have integrated with local communities.
The violence in South Africa has been widely condemned in many African countries and in some instances, protesters have been looting or boycotting South African owned business in other countries.
Xenophobia-motivated violence has been mainly driven by criminals since 2008 when over 6 000 foreigners were left displaced in that country.
In 2015, Zimbabwe had to repatriate 1 500 of its citizens from Durban when xenophobia reared its ugly head in Kwazulu Natal Province. The Herald