By Tichaona Sibanda
19 July 2010
The Civil Protection Unit has put up temporary shelters in Beitbridge for hundreds of Zimbabweans fleeing xenophobic threats on foreigners in South Africa.
Madzudzo Pawadyira, the director of the CPU, said they had erected three big tents and made available 10,000 blankets, 20 boxes of laundry soap and 1,000 buckets. He said the same measures have also been put in place in Plumtree to cater for those returning through the Plumtree border with Botswana.
Pawadyira said they got help to set up the temporary shelters from United Nations agencies such as the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and other non-governmental organisations like Medecins Sans Frontiers and World Vision.
Luke Zunga from the Global Zimbabwe Forum in Johannesburg told us on Monday the IOM had informed them last week of its plans to put up reception centres in Beitbridge.
‘What the IOM will do through these centres is to receive returning exiles and help them re-organise and re-direct them to their particular home areas. This facilitator also helps people without money to get to their destinations,’ Zunga. In most of the cases, Zunga said, migrants passing through Beitbridge will be fed whilst in transit and while they are trying to figure out their next move.
Many foreigners living in South Africa’s poorest neighbourhoods have in recent weeks received threats in the wake of the World Cup; two years after a wave of anti-immigrant violence left 62 dead across the country.
Exiled Zimbabwean Everisto Kamera recently told SW Radio Africa that xenophobic sentiments are less common in South Africa’s wealthy suburbs, but are often serious in the poor shantytowns that surround major cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
In the last week thousands of Zimbabweans working and living in South Africa returned home after the final of the 2010 football World Cup.
The Beitbridge border post has experienced a big increase in volume with queues of people and vehicles snaking along the highways for kilometres on the South African side of the border. Also fleeing South Africa are nationals from Zambia and Malawi.
Foreign nationals, especially those residing in the country’s marginalised communities, are often accused of ‘stealing’ jobs and houses from locals.