A second contingent of more than 300 Zimbabweans fleeing xenophobic violence in South Africa is due to leave Durban on Thursday, the Herald newspaper reported.
A first contingent of what is now known to be 555 Zimbabweans arrived at Beitbridge border post on Monday. Most of those are from the capital Harare and from Zaka district in south-eastern Zimbabwe.
This second group of 333 Zimbabweans was expected to leave earlier this week but was delayed by formalities on the South African side, Zimbabwe’s consul-general to South Africa Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro told the Herald.
He said: “The sorting out of their documents had been temporarily shelved as the Home Affairs department was clearing immigrants from Mozambique and Malawi.”
These returning Zimbabweans are among more than 2 000 foreign nationals reported to have been staying in the Phoenix camp.
There is some confusion over whether more Zimbabweans will be repatriated after Thursday’s group. Reports earlier this week suggested that up to 2,000 Zimbabweans had volunteered to be repatriated in the wake of the violence, which has left at least seven dead.
But Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa Isaac Moyo told the official Chronicle newspaper that Thursday’s contingent would be the “last” group to be taken home.
If confirmed, that will mean that less than 900 Zimbabweans are being repatriated. Officials have agreed to tighten security on buses carrying returnees after 15 Zimbabweans slipped away in Musina Monday where they were being given food.
Ambassador Moyo said that no Zimbabweans from Johannesburg wanted to be repatriated.