The South African government has intensified a crackdown on Zimbabweans living in that country without proper documentation.
On Tuesday the South African police vans offloaded over a hundred Zimbabwean deportees at the Beitbridge Quarantine Center. The deportees were rounded up in the Limpopo Province as the neighbouring country insists this is a move to decongest its prisons and migrants holding facilities to minimize Covid-19 infections. It is estimated that every week, SA is deporting, on average, 100 Zimbabweans through the Beitbridge border crossing.
But since last Thursday, a record 220 individuals comprising several alleged criminals, overstayers and undocumented individuals — were dispatched from the Lindela Detention Centre in Johannesburg.
This was revealed by Zimbabwe’s consul-general in Johannesburg, Melody Chaurura.
Between March and June this year, 18,000 Zimbabweans have been deported from SA, Eswatini and Lesotho through the Beitbridge border. There are fears that in the midst of the Riots, Zimbabweans, Mozambiquans and other foreign nationals are being unfairly blamed for most of the looting as an excuse to trigger xenophopic attacks.
Botswana is carrying out a similar exercise. Border control officials between Botswana and Zimbabwe at Ramokgwebana say they receive large numbers of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe daily.
Meanwhile, Rioting and looting in South Africa continued yesterday, raising the death toll to at least 75 as protesters clash with police. In the country’s worst unrest in years, looters vandalised shopping malls, other retail outlets and businesses in the province of Gauteng, which includes the country’s largest city of Johannesburg. Security forces seemed unable to prevent the looting and attacks, which also occurred in Zuma’s home province, KwaZulu-Natal and in Soweto.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said at a news conference that 757 people had been arrested and warned that people would not be allowed “to make a mockery of our democratic state.”
Major General Mathapelo Peters form the South African Defence Forces said many of the deaths were caused by stampedes of people when shops were being looted. He added that
27 deaths are being investigated in KwaZulu-Natal province and 45 in Gauteng province as the military struggles to quell the rioting despite using stun grenades and rubber bullets.
Ten people were crushed to death in a stampede during a mass looting at Ndofaya shopping centre in Gauteng, South Africa’s most populous province which includes the largest city, Johannesburg.
Major Peters said officers were investigating fatalities from crushing, as well as deaths caused by explosions when people tried to break into cashpoints, and other fatalities caused by shootings.
Thousands of people have stolen food, electric appliances, alcohol and clothing from retail centres, vehicles have been burned, businesses vandalised and debris left strewn across roads.
Troops could be seen moving in to flashpoints on Wednesday morning as outnumbered police seemed helpless to prevent attacks and looting on businesses in Zuma’s home province KwaZulu-Natal and in Gauteng province, where the country’s biggest city, Johannesburg, is located. Columns of armoured personnel carriers rolled down highways. In some areas of the coastal city of Durban where shops were being looted, there was no police visibility.
By Eric Knight