By Leopold Munhende
SOME 171 Zimbabweans have been affected by a recent spat of xenophobic violence while two were reportedly killed in South Africa, government has said.
Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told a post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare Tuesday efforts were already underway to evacuate the affected individuals after they approached the Zimbabwean Consulate for assistance.
“A total of 171 Zimbabwean nationals had been affected with two of them having lost their lives.
“Government is deeply saddened by this occurrence and is currently in the process of making arrangements to urgently repatriate the affected citizens back home,” said Mutsvangwa.
“Government continues to monitor the situation with a view to escalating the evacuation exercise should the situation deteriorate.”
Nigeria, whose citizens constitute a large proportion of foreigners in South Africa has indicated that it will be evacuating 600 citizens.
Hundreds of foreigners are being hounded out of mainly Johannesburg’s highly populated Hillbrow area by locals who accuse them of stealing their jobs and straining service provision in Southern Africa’s strongest economy.
Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo said government currently does not have exact figures of Zimbabweans in South Africa and will be concentrating efforts on the 171 who have come forward.
“We are guessing to say how many Zimbabweans are there in South Africa today, some people were saying two to three million but we do not have exact figures as to how many Zimbabweans are there.
“This is actually a voluntary request of repatriation which has come from our citizens,” said Moyo.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has urged his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa to use force in dealing with the violence.
Gruesome videos of foreigners being beaten are doing rounds on social media as the violence continues.
South African opposition EFF leader Julius Malema has condemned Ramaphosa for his subdued response to the atrocities.