Govt sets up centre for xenophobia victims

Some of the perpetrators of xenophobia-related violence in South Africa last year

BY Rex Mphisa

Government has reactivated a reception centre at Beitbridge to handle Zimbabweans fleeing xenophobic attacks in South Africa. The first batch of 60 repatriates was expected to arrive last night.

At least 171 South Africa-based Zimbabweans are now known to have expressed willingness to return home following attacks on foreigners in that country.

“We are preparing to receive the repatriates. They will be cleared at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM),” assistant district co-ordinator at Beitbridge Jahson Mugodzwa said yesterday.

Zimbabwe first set up the centre in April 2015 following similar attacks on foreigners by some South Africans.

The DC’s office, the new name for district administrator, is, together with the Department of Social Welfare, expected to lead government agencies in receiving the repatriates.

On Wednesday, the Foreign Affairs and International Trade ministry held a meeting to map out the arrangements for receiving victims of the ongoing violence in South Africa.

The victims, who have signalled their desire to be repatriated back home, have been given until Thursday to leave by the Ekurhuleni Municipality which is housing them in two safe halls.

The Zimbabwe Embassy in South Africa made arrangements to hire buses to ferry the victims back home.

The centre has a mobile clinic run by the Ministry of Health and Child Care, while food, accommodation, screening, starter packs and water and sanitation will be provided by the Department of Social Welfare.

The department is also expected to co-ordinate non-governmental and other humanitarian organisations willing to assist the victims.

As in the past, the security ministries are expected to vet the returnees and the Registrar-General’s Department will provide documentation.