Harare – A first contingent of more than 400 Zimbabweans fleeing xenophobic violence in Durban is expected to reach the Beitbridge border post on Monday, the official Herald newspaper reported.

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Beit bridgeBuses carrying 407 Zimbabweans – described as “enthusiastic to go home” – only left Durban late on Sunday, the report said.

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Ninety-two of the repatriates are children. The Herald said 112 are women and 203 are men. They had been staying in a camp in Chatsworth.

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Earlier reports said 700 Zimbabweans were to leave Durban for home on Sunday, but it appears the first contingent was split.

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Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, Isaac Moyo, said another 400 Zimbabweans were on Monday waiting to leave Durban from the Phoenix Holding Centre.

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Moyo told the paper: “These will be repatriated to Zimbabwe by the end of today or on Tuesday morning. We have since addressed them and told them what we expect from them so that we can assist them.”

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All returning migrants are going through “basic” checks to confirm that they are Zimbabwean.

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Xenophobic attacks

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The Herald said that some South African women had tried to claim Zimbabwean citizenship without success. It is likely that these are the wives of Zimbabwean nationals who wanted to accompany their partners.

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At least two Zimbabweans are believed to be among those killed in the wave of xenophobic attacks that broke out more than a week ago. Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe at the weekend expressed his “shock and disgust” at the attacks and said they must never happen again.

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Zimbabwe said it had provided the buses for its nationals to travel home in. Officials from Zimbabwe’s Civil Protection Unit and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) are waiting to meet the Zimbabweans at Beitbridge and help them return home.

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Bishow Parajuli, the resident UN co-ordinator for Zimbabwe, said in a tweet at the weekend: “@UNZimbabwe joining govt 2 support affected Zimbabweans 2 bring home.”