Zimbabwe has set up temporary shelters for scores of its nationals leaving South Africa following threats of attacks on foreigners.
“We have put three big tents in Beitbridge, 10?000 blankets, 20 boxes of laundry soap and 1?000 buckets,” Madzudzo Pawadyira, head of the government’s civil protection unit, told AFP. Beitbridge is the main border crossing to South Africa.
“The same measures have been put in place for those returning through the Plumtree border with Botswana,” he added.
Scores of Zimbabweans working and living in South Africa are returning home after the Fifa World Cup, with rumours of xenophobic violence swirling through poor neighbourhoods, he said.
“But this is not only confined to Zimbabweans. It includes other nationals from Zambia and Malawi,” Pawadyira said.
“Most of the people who were in South Africa are sending their children back home. Then you have those who are coming back because their usefulness in South Africa is no longer required.
“We have put up the contingency plans in partnership with UN agencies such as International Organisation for Migration, other non-governmental organisations such as Medicins Sans Frontieres and World Vision.”
He sought to allay fears of a repeat of the 2008 xenophobic attacks that left 62 dead and thousands without homes when mobs of South Africans turned on foreign nationals they accused of taking away scarce jobs.
“We have been assured by the South African authorities that they will stem out out these attacks on foreigners and that is quite encouraging,” Pawadyira said.