Zimbabweans In Cape Town Safe From Xenophobic Attacks

Cape Town – As attacks on foreigners spread across South Africa, Zimbabweans living in the coastal city of Cape Town say they are still safe in their homes and work places but they are not taking any chances.

But in the Eastern Cape, an unidentified Zimbabwean national from Harare was rescued by police before the locals could put a tyre on his neck ready to necklace him. The Zimbabwean had tried to escape after allegedly killing his girlfriend during an argument.

Police said the suspect was in their custody and will appear in court this week to face charges of murder.After killing his girlfriend, he tried to flee but locals gave chase and caught up with him.

“If the police had not arrived on time he would be dead by now,” said his friend, also a Zimbabwean. He did not say why his fellow countryman killed his girlfriend. The attacks on foreigners began in Isipingo, south of Durban on March 30 leaving six people dead including three South Africans. Many people especially foreigners are blaming Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini for sparking xenophobic attacks.

But the King’s aides have dismissed those accusations as rubbish and accused foreigners of disrespecting their culture.The King who commands more respect among the Zulus than the President turned down a request by pressure groups and human rights organizations to lead a march against xenophobia.

“We are still safe here in Cape Town. The best way of protecting yourself is to avoid moving alone in the townships and drinking places,” said a Zimbabwean man identified as Kumboni.

The King spoke at a function in Pongola where he was invited by Police Minister, Nathi Nhleko.He was quoted as saying: “As I speak, you find foreigners unpleasant goods hanging all over our shops, they soil our streets. We cannot even recognise which shop is which … there are foreigners everywhere.

“We ask foreign nationals to pack their belongings and go back to their countries.” But Nhleko defended the King saying his comments were taken out of context.

The King hit back at politicians who criticized him for his comments saying: “I ask political leaders that we should respect each other. Democracy should not make them feel like demigods. Although everyone has a right to comment about [kingship], I will not allow myself to be insulted by people who think because of five years which was given to them at the mercy of voters, they are now demigods who should be praised.

“I wish that politicians who comment on what I said in Pongola should do so with knowledge. A person should not comment just because he is standing in front of microphones and cameras.”The King is expected to address thousands of people at an Imbizo in Durban this afternoon.

He is however not expected to apologise for his comments but could call for end to attacks on foreign nationals. Officials from the Malawi embassy in Pretoria have continued with their arrangement to hire buses to repatriate their nationals back home. South Africans working in Mozambique were also repatriated at the weekend. Zimbabwean ambassador to South Africa Isaac Moyo told The Chronicle that 600 locals were repatriated yesterday from Durban.

A senior KN government official who spoke before the King arrived for the Imbizo today gave the locals a brief history of other Zulu groups that left KwaZulu with Mzilikazi, Soshangane and Zwangendaba and crossed the Limpopo and settled in Matabeleland, Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique in the 19th century.

Mzilikazi called his new nation Umthwakazi.The KZN official also mentioned other Nguni groups in Tanzania which they discovered during their exile in foreign countries. Zambia, Angola and Tanzania hosted the largest number of South African exiles during apartheid era including the establishment of training camps for Umkhonto weSizwe (MK) guerrillas.

Zambia became the headquarters of the ANC and other liberation movements in southern Africa that included Zapu of Zimbabwe, Swapo of Namibia, Frelimo of Mozambique and Angola’s MPLA. He reminded South Africans of how MK guerrillas were helped by foreigners who suffered constant raids by the South African special forces.