113 Malawians displaced in xenophobic attacks

About 113 Malawians are said to have been displaced in the City of Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality of Gauteng Province in South Africa, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Security has said.

The ministry’s spokesperson Rejoice Shumba said in an interview yesterday the displaced Malawians and other nationals are being kept in temporary shelters at a place that was identified by the South Africa’s Department of Disaster in the town of Katlehong.

She said: “We have received reports that 113 Malawians have been displaced, but people should be assured that government is ensuring the safety of the people. The Malawi Mission in South Africa is visiting the facility as often as possible.”

Shumba said of the 113, 68 are males, 30 are females and 15 are children.

The ministry has, in the meantime, contacted the United Nations’ International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to assist in repatriating the victims that are willing to return to Malawi.

Flashback: Xenophobia refugees at a South African camp

Meanwhile, Gift of the Givers is providing some support to the victims.

Attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa started two weeks ago in the suburbs south of Johannesburg city centre and spread to the central business district where over 50 foreign owned shops, business premises, cars and properties were looted and torched.

The attacks are targeting migrants from other African countries, particularly truck drivers and foreign business entities.

Two days after the attacks began, the Malawi High Commissioner to South Africa Gloria Bamusi cautioned Malawian truck drivers against plying the South Africa route.

In an interview, Bamusi condemned the attacks and advised Malawians that travel by road to stay safeor at least postpone their trips until things return to normal.

In 2008, about 60 people were killed and over 50 000 forced from their homes while in 2015 seven people died during similar attacks in the country where migrants are seen as competition for scarce jobs and government services.

According to a report by the Mail and Guardian, South African politicians claim that foreigners flooding to South Africa undermine the country’s security, stability and prosperity. But, according to the 2011 census, the population of immigrants in South Africa was 2.2 million against the country’s 55 million population, representing about 4 percent of the population. Statistics from that SA Community Survey of 2016 puts the number of foreign born people at 1.6 million, out of a population of 55 million at the time.

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