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Zimbabwe workers suffer in SA

by Staff reporter
27 Aug 2022 at 20:49hrs | Views
ZIMBABWEANS, together with other foreign nationals, are continuing to bear the brunt of vigilante attacks by South African citizens, who are accusing them of taking their jobs and committing crime.

An estimated three-million Zimbabweans are resident in South Africa after fleeing political and economic turmoil back home.

Operation Dudula

Whilst calls for the deportation of foreigners are not new, they have grown louder since the emergence of Operation Dudula, a controversial anti-immigrant movement presumably meant to put South Africans first.

The group has been on a crusade to pluck out undocumented citizens from the townships, accusing them of committing crimes.

Several foreigners have fallen prey to Operation Dudula which saw Elvis Nyathi, a Zimbabwean citizen, being burnt to death in April.

Among victims of attacks have been artisanal miners, known as zama-zamas, residing in South Africa's mineral-rich towns.

"This is information that is not a secret. There are those who come from Lesotho . . . Zimbabwe . . . and there are those who come from Mozambique. There are three countries. To say this means we as South Africa also have to work with those Sadc countries," said Gauteng premier David Makhura, commenting on the undocumented migrant miners.

In a video circulating online, South African vigilante groups can be seen rounding up and viciously beating naked migrant mineworkers, including Zimbabweans, with sticks and other weapons. Currently, there are approximately half a million active mineworkers in South Africa, with about 40% coming from neighbouring countries.

The extent of the suffering has also been visible in trade with vigilante groups destroying migrant-owned tuckshops, also known as spaza shops.

Several street vendors, many of them foreigners who would have failed to get formal employment, have been targeted by the operation, further plunging them into poverty.  
The attack on business has also been affecting local businesspeople in Zimbabwe who have been relying on South Africa for trade.

Local traders who spoke to The NewsHawks say they have since halted going to the southern African nation, with many opting for "runners" — messengers who deliver merchandise from countries like South Africa, among others.

Truck drivers
Truck drivers have also been targeted, with many working in fear of being hijacked and attacked by people who are part of the vigilante groups. In some cases, drivers have been abducted by alleged Operation Dudula members who accuse them of getting their jobs.

In addition, some drivers say rogue police have been using the Special Exemption Permits, which are expiring in December, to extort foreigners.

Some trucks have been burnt and drivers assaulted by protesting South African drivers.

Religious groups

The attacks have also been extending to religious groups, particularly those known to be constituted by immigrants.

 Religious organisations in South Africa like the Dutch Reformed Church have condemned the attacks on migrants which are affecting members of their organisations.

Locally, the Zimbabwe Church Ministers' Association (ZCMA) says inter-state measures should be adopted to rescue the deteriorating situation in which migrants are being maimed by local activists.

"We have South Africans working in Zimbabwe, but we treat them as our brothers. People should just have respect for fellow Africans," says Bishop Christopher Choto, ZCMA president. "Every country has undocumented people, but these people also have human rights. We are condemning the issue of targeting a fellow black African."

"As the ZCMA, we condemn what has been happening."

Coming back home

Almost 200 000 Zimbabweans are still in limbo as the South African government has maintained its stance, announcing that it will not extend the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits, which lapse on 31 December.

This is likely to spell more suffering for Zimbabweans, many of whom have been earning a living in South Africa, where they are now unwanted.

Source - thenewshawks