President Jacob Zuma’s comments on the number of Zimbabweans currently in South African jails were “inappropriate” given the wave of xenophobic violence that has hit Durban and Johannesburg, Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi was quoted as saying yesterday.
Mohadi said that he objected to the South African leader “singling out” Zimbabwean inmates in South African jails “when it was apparent that other nationals in that country also commit crimes”, the State media reported.
Zuma said on Wednesday that there were more than 4 000 Zimbabweans currently in prison in South Africa, in comments that immediately angered Zimbabweans on social media.
Analyst Glen Mpani tweeted: “So what if there are 4 000 Zim in prison?”
Zimbabwe this week repatriated hundreds of its citizens from Durban in the wake of the attacks, which have left at least one Zimbabwean man dead.
More than 100 of the returnees have had to undergo trauma counselling. A number of them are also suffering from pneumonia, officials at Beitbridge border post say.
Mohadi said: “I personally didn’t hear those comments, but if (Zuma) said them, then it’s most unfortunate and we really wonder why he had to single out Zimbabwe when it’s apparent that other nationals in that country also commit crimes.
“His comments were inappropriate,” Mohadi said.
The number of Zimbabweans wanting to come home appears to be less than was initially thought, reports suggest.