Zimbabweans panic over SA unrest

By Oriel Khumalo

Zimbabweans based in South Africa have expressed their fear and anxiety over the lootings and violent protests taking place in the past days stating that they may trigger Xenophobic attacks.

The migrants stated that in the past few days, the chaos happening has only endangered the lives of all foreigners as they do not have any hope that they will get any state protection especially since they already have heard through the grapevines that foreigners are to be blamed for most of the lootings and violence.

Siphosakhe Mahlangu based in the country said that historically foreigners have always been blamed for all the bad things and criminal activities .

“We are afraid that we are losing our jobs because right now shops are closing as burning and looting continues if this continues they may start blaming us foreigners .”

Mahlangu also stated that many Zimbabweans have expressed a sense of losing hope for better lives which they had crossed borders for in the first place.

Asaph Phiri another also based in South Africa shared the same sentiments saying that being in Zimbabwe was much safer as the current situation is making the whole idea of searching for greener pastures vague.

“I feel like being at home is more peaceful than being in South Africa because the situation is tense considering police are out there being violent on people who are already violent . We cannot go out to look for food let alone money to send to our families . I am even considering coming back home.”

Bongani Mkhwanazi, Spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa however noted that there had not yet received any reports of xenophobic incidences .

“As an organisation we had not yet received reports of xenophobic attacks although we fear that the situation could lead to that . For now the situation shows that the South Africans are protesting on the socio-economic injustices caused by the system. ”

At least 50 people have died in the violence which has been engulfing parts of South Africa since the country’s former President Jacob Zuma handed himself into police custody last week.

Almost 800 people have been arrested in the unrest which turned violent over the weekend, with fires set, highways blocked and businesses looted.

The military has been deployed to help the overstretched police. Police Minister Bheki Cele on Tuesday said that the protest action will be contained to avoid a further deterioration of the situation, while also raising concern that the protests could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases.

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