Zimbabweans Threatened With Xenophobia Attacks

Most of those who spoke to Radio VOP in separate interviews expressed concern at the increasing xenophobic overtures that have been directed at them in recent months.

“We are constantly reminded that there will be bloodshed after the World Cup if we don’t leave,” said Willard Sivukile, a Zimbabwean
working at a petrol station in Durban.

“These threats are being made both at work and home. We are being accused of taking away their (South Africans)jobs by accepting lower pay.”

South African cities are home to millions of Zimbabweans and other nationalities from African countries, who fled poverty, war and
persecution in their own countries.

In Durban there is a growing number of Zimbabwean nationals who are leaving the hustle and bustle of the often crime ridden life of
Johannesburg in search of better fortunes in smaller cities.

Most of these have since resorted to setting up their own businesses turning Durban’s Car Boot Market into a small Mupedzahamo Market like the one in Harare as many Zimbabweans make it their work place.

Just about 80 kilometres from Durban is Pitzmaritzburg, a town, which is also home to hundreds of Zimbabweans who have taken up jobs
recently established in Chicken farms around the town.

A three storey house in the city is home to about 200 Zimbabweans most of who are new arrivals in the town.

A resident at the house, who identified herself as Mai Gugu, told Radio VOP that the house is usually used as a transit area by new arrivals who need somewhere to stay before they find their feet in the city.

“It never used to be like this and considering that you have to pay R 30 rands a day in accommodation fees, many people would rather stay in the informal settlements where they pay about R 150 a month in rentals but many people are returning for fear of being attack,” said Mai Gugu.

“Its better to be attacked with others rather than suffer alone.”

Asked if she would rather go back home than face death in South Africa, she said, “I would love to go back home but where will I get a
job and money to feed my family?”

Many humanitarian and human rights organisations in South Africa have been urging the Jacob Zuma-led government to put in place a plan to avert the recurrence of xenophobic violence.

The South African government which in 2008, only reacted to stop the xenophobic violence after two weeks, has remained silent on the matter.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), a key governing alliance of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), has been on record saying as long as the high rate of unemployment is not addressed, xenophobic violence will be inevitable.

Meanwhile a group of Zimbabweans who fled xenophobic violence in Cape Town early this year faces eviction from a safety camp in De Doorns that had become home to them.

The Camp Manager, Shaun Minnies, was quoted by the South African media saying Zimbabweans are refusing to vacate the camp which the Cape Town local government authorities want to re-open for recreational activities.

“Zimbabweans at De Doorns are refusing to leave the camp which locals want back for sporting activities,” said Minnies.

The Cape authorities argue that it is now safe for Zimbabweans to return but the Zimbabweans are refusing to leave saying they would rather be given R 1000 to facilitate their travel back home.

The Zimbabweans were haunted out of their homes in the Cape Town informal settlements after they were targeted for taking up grape harvesting jobs for lower wages.

The Zimbabwean government does not have an answer as well as to how it can best protect its citizens. During a visit to the De Doorns Cape last month the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Paurina Mpariwa only managed to urge the exiles to return home and help craft the country’s on and off constitution making process, without offering any concrete proposals for their safe return.