Zim sets up xenophobia victim centre

Chief Charumbira

Chief Charumbira

Herald Reporters—
The Civil Protection Unit has established a reception and support centre at the Beitbridge Border Post in preparation for the arrival of victims of xenophobia from South Africa, whose first batch is expected tomorrow. The reception centre has a carrying capacity of 1 000 people and can offer overnight accommodation to 600 adults and 40 children per day.

CPU director Mr Madzudzo Pawadyira said in an interview yesterday that they were ready to receive more than 1 500 Zimbabweans fleeing xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

“We have had initial arrangements to facilitate arrival and carrying of people from Beitbridge to their respective places,” he said.

“We are working under the guidance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and have already sent a team to Beitbridge to resuscitate the current facilities where these people will be assisted.” Mr Pawadyira said they would continue engaging stakeholders to ensure that the victims of xenophobia get the necessary assistance upon their arrival.

Reports indicate that the victims will be transported to Zimbabwe by the South Africa’s Home Affairs department and would be handed over to authorities at the reception and support centre.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa Mr Isaac Moyo said on Thursday that they had completed the identification and processing of repatriation documents for those who were displaced during the ongoing attacks in Durban.

“We have witnessed that there has been massive looting and ransacking in the houses belonging to our people,” he said. “More people have come forward in need of assistance to recover the properties they left behind in the houses.”

According to South African police, 100 people have been arrested in connection with the Durban attacks. Chiefs and churches in Zimbabwe yesterday condemned the xenophobic attacks as barbaric and urged Government to intervene to protect locals who are living in the neighbouring country.

The chiefs said they were going to approach the South African House of Chiefs to express their displeasure.

Speaking at a press conference, chiefs council president Chief Fortune Charumbira said South Africans were failing to understand the causes of unemployment in their country. “They should go back to the basics of the structure of their economy and find out who owns wealth and resources,” he said.

“The whites still control every sector of the economy. Unemployment is as a result of apartheid.”

He said it was unfortunate that a traditional leader, King Goodwill Zwelithini, became the champion of fighting fellow blacks, saying Africans were known to be hospitable.

Speaking at the same press conference, Chief Zvimba said South Africans should realise that they were also strewn around the continent before their independence.

Church leaders also castigated the xenophobic attacks, which have led to some deaths and left hundreds of foreigners displaced.

Pentecostal Assemblies of Zimbabwe’s Bishop Trevor Manhanga said it was sad that South Africans were attacking other nationals who contributed to the well-being of their country.

“South Africa was born out of efforts and sacrifice of the majority of nations in Sub-Saharan Africa and now it treats the nationals of those self-same nations as vermin,” he said.

“The church stands against such behaviour and must speak out and act against this tragedy of indescribable proportions that is unveiling before our very eyes. The Bible is clear in Exodus 22 verse 21 when God speaks to Israelites: ‘Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner for you were foreigners in Egypt.’

“And again in Psalm 146:9: ‘The Lord watches over the foreigner . . .’

“This gives the church and Christians clear instructions on how they are to relate to foreigners in their midst — and that is to treat them with concern and compassion. Sadly, this is not happening in South Africa,” Bishop Manhanga said.