Xenophobia victims shipped grocery and furniture but remained behind – Parliamentary report

The Zimbabwean government sent 10 buses to help victims of xenophobia in South Africa but the buses came back with very few people but loads of grocery and furniture belonging to Zimbabweans who had opted to remain behind.

This was disclosed to the Thematic Committee on Peace and Security by the acting secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Ngoni Sengwe in a report that was presented to Parliament on 9 March this year.

The report does not mention when this happened but xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa took place in May 2008. More than 60 people were killed. There were threats of further attacks last year but not much happened.

Despite the response from the victims of xenophobia, the committee recommended that more should be done to help them. It said particular attention should be given to those living in camps as they were vulnerable to various forms of abuse, diseases, discrimination and unfair distribution of resources.

At the height of the xenophobic attacks, human rights groups said some 49 000 Zimbabweans were flocking into South Africa illegally every month. The groups said there were between 3 and 5 million Zimbabweans in South Africa.

Only 275 000 Zimbabweans applied for regularisation during the documentation exercise for Zimbabweans last year. Human rights groups revised their figure of Zimbabweans in South Africa to between 1.2 and 1.5 million.

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