Buses carrying 700 Zimbabweans in Durban ready

2015-04-19 10:49
An immigrant, armed with a machete, faces off with police in Durban. (Tebogo Letsie, AP)

An immigrant, armed with a machete, faces off with police in Durban. (Tebogo Letsie, AP)

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Durban - Seven buses are Sunday due to leave South Africa's coastal city of Durban to carry home the first contingent of 700 Zimbabweans leaving South Africa in the wake of  xenophobic attacks, Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa was quoted as saying.

Isaac Moyo told the official Sunday News: "We have seven buses that will take the first lot straight to Zimbabwe and we trust all will be well with this first lot."

Among the group returning to Zimbabwe through the Beitbridge border post on Sunday, are 110 children, the ambassador said. He said that a Zimbabwean woman gave birth to a baby boy at a camp in Chatsworth on Saturday. 

The Sunday News said that "many" Zimbabweans were now indicating their willingness to travel home in the wake of the attacks, which have displaced thousands of foreign nationals in and around Durban and Johannesburg. Two Zimbabweans are believed to have been among those killed in the xenophobic attacks, which broke out shortly after President Robert Mugabe and his wife made a state visit to South Africa earlier this month.

Mugabe, 91, told crowds gathered to celebrate independence in Harare on Saturday that the attacks were "horrible" and must "never happen again".

Speaking from Durban, ambassador Moyo told the Sunday News that repatriating Zimbabweans from coastal resort in the south of the country "may take a week or so".

Earlier reports put the number of Zimbabweans wishing to return home at more than 1 500, but the figure appears to be growing.

Moyo told the newspaper, which is published in Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo: "There is quite a sizeable number of Zimbabweans here in Durban and we have not closed our doors, we are accepting those that are still coming in but generally they are many.”

South Africa is home to an estimated more than one million Zimbabwean migrants, many - but not all - of them illegal residents. Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans have fled south across the Limpopo River since 2000 in a bid to escape economic and political crises back home.

Six people died this week and thousands were displaced as hostility between some locals and foreigners escalated in Durban and parts of Johannesburg.

Gauteng police were also investigating whether an attack on a Mozambican man in Alexandra, Johannesburg, who later died in hospital was linked to xenophobia.

Read more on:    durban  |  zimbabwe  |  xenophobia

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