GOVERNMENT will evacuate at least 171 Zimbabweans from South Africa following the death of two locals in ongoing xenophobic violence. This was said by Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa while presenting the 32nd Cabinet Decision Matrix yesterday.
South Africa has been experiencing an orgy of violence that is targeting African migrants and has resulted in the death of at least 12 people.
"The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Sibusiso Moyo) briefed Cabinet on the current xenophobic attacks on immigrants in South Africa," said Minister Mutsvangwa.
"He indicated that a total of 171 Zimbabwean nationals had been affected, with two of them having lost their lives.
"Government is deeply saddened by this occurrence and is currently in the process of making arrangements to urgently repatriate the affected citizens back home.
"Meanwhile, our Consulate in South Africa is engaging some international organisations for support to the affected citizens. Government continues to monitor the situation with a view to escalating the evacuation exercise should the situation deteriorate."
Minister Moyo said the 171 Zimbabweans had indicated their willingness to return home.
"We don't have an actual figure of how many Zimbabweans are in South Africa because some say two million, some three million, but these (the 171) have indicated their willingness to return home and as Government it is our responsibility to protect our citizens wherever they are."
Minister Moyo said the identities of the deceased would be made public once their next of kin were informed.
Apart from the 12 dead, over 693 people have been arrested in the violence that has seen the looting of foreign-owned shops and burning of properties.
The violence has been widely condemned in many countries across the continent, with observers saying it goes against Pan-African values championed by the continent's founding fathers.
The violence has resulted in some Mozambicans and Nigerians retaliating against South African businesses in their countries.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to visit South Africa next month where the issue of the violence will be up for discussion.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's spokesperson Ms Khusela Diko confirmed in a statement that President Buhari will make a State visit to Pretoria.
"His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari will undertake a State visit to South Africa in October 2019 to reinforce the strong bonds between the two countries and jointly develop responses to challenges affecting people and businesses in South Africa and Nigeria.
"In the wake of public violence in South Africa and developments in Nigeria around South African businesses based in the West African country, President Cyril Ramaphosa held discussions yesterday on Friday 2019, with Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Special envoy of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari," said Ms Diko.
The special envoy conveyed President Buhari's concern at the xenophobic attacks against African citizens based in South Africa.
This saw Nigerians engaging in retaliatory violence targeting businesses owned by South African businesspeople, including mobile phone giant MTN.
The Nigerian senate is understood to have threatened to expel other South African firms such as Shoprite and DStv.