PRETORIA — South Africa-based Zimbabweans are living in fear of fresh xenophobic attacks after hundreds of nationals marched in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Businesses in parts of the Johannesburg city centre and surrounding areas shut their doors as a group of men, believed to be mostly hostel dwellers from Jeppestown, marched and protested on Sunday afternoon. Some of the men were armed with sticks and pangas. It is understood they were calling for African migrants to leave the city. They were reportedly chanting songs of hate.
“We fear for our lives, they want to finish us up,” said one Zimbabwean resident in Hillbrow, a location where foreigners engaged South African nationals in the last xenophobic attacks which claimed about five lives.
In a statement, Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters confirmed that a number of businesses and shops were attacked and damaged as the group marched through the city.
“Incidents of attacks on businesses have since been reported in parts of the central business district where police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets to restrain the growing crowd who attempted to move through the CBD via corner Bree and Twist Streets,” the police spokesperson said in a statement.
African and other world leaders have called on the South African government to come out clean on the black-on-black attacks. Some Zimbabweans have called on government to redress local economic issues for them to return home.
Around three million Zimbabweans deserted their country and settled elsewhere mostly in South Africa as economic refugees during the late Robert Mugabe’s 37 year-rule. South African nationals accuse Zimbabweans of taking their jobs and have either killed their victims or burnt down their property.