Gauteng police said on Monday that they did not think that a Zimbabwean woman found decapitated in Killarney last week was a victim of xenophobic violence.
Police spokesperson Lungelo Dlamini told News24 that the woman’s body was found on Tuesday “near where the homeless people were staying” in Killarney.
Dlamini said: “We were informed by them there was a body in a black plastic bag. She was decapitated.”
“She has been identified as a Zimbabwean woman.”
“We don’t think it was related to the xenophobic violence. It looked like a planned killing – she was killed elsewhere, then her body was put in the plastic bag and dumped,” Dlamini said, confirming that police were investigating the motive for the woman’s murder.
Dlamini did not name the victim.
But state media in Zimbabwe on Monday quoted members of a family in Harare who said their relative had been found decapitated in the Houghton area last week. She was named as Naome Garusa, aged 41.
Garusa’s family told the Herald newspaper that they believed she was indeed a victim of the xenophobic violence that has swept parts of Durban and Johannesburg for more than a week.
Relatives in South Africa told Garusa’s relatives that she had been attacked by “marauding xenophobic elements, who targeted her as she came from her workplace”, the Herald reported.
Garusa is believed to have been staying in South Africa for more than 12 years. Her family say she was there legally.
South African police have confirmed the deaths of seven people in the violence so far.
But Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa Isaac Moyo, who is currently in Durban, says the death toll is a “grey area”.
He told the official Chronicle newspaper on Monday that only one Zimbabwean victim, a man known as Mhofu, had been confirmed killed. Officials are trying to repatriate his body.
Press reports in Zimbabwe reported earlier last week that another two Zimbabweans, a woman and a child, had been killed in the violence.
Zimbabwe has started busing home hundreds of citizens in the wake of the attacks.
The first contingent of 407 Zimbabweans, including nearly 100 children, is due to arrive at the Beitbridge border post on Monday.
Another 400 will leave soon.