Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi yesterday said the government has not received any reports of Zimbabweans caught up in attacks against foreigners in neighbouring South Africa.
Mohadi’s comments came amid reports that four people were killed and shops were looted and burnt as violence between residents and foreign nationals escalated in Durban.
Those killed included an Ethiopian, whose shop was petrol bombed last week, an African immigrant whose nationality was not immediately known and two South Africans, police spokesman Thulani Zwane said.
Police said 28 people have been arrested for looting and torching immigrants’ shops and were due to appear in the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court.
“We received reports that shops belonging to foreign nationals were looted and some of them were burnt down overnight,” Zwane said.
Hundreds of people have fled their homes since the violence broke out two weeks ago.
On Sunday night a mob set upon foreigners at KwaMashu’s A Section hostel, and the surbubs B and D sections.
Several police vehicles that responded were stoned. Residents in neighbouring Avoca Hills reported they could hear screams and what sounded like gunshots.
In Varsity Drive, Reservoir Hills, another mob, carrying sticks and grass cutters, attacked foreigners.
A resident said the mob was going to various tuckshops, owned by foreigners and looting them.
The Public Order Policing Unit has had its numbers bolstered by additional members from units in Pretoria, Ulundi, Newcastle, Port Shepstone and Eastern Cape. This will help police attend to attacks throughout the province.
Children displaced by the attacks did not go back to school.
In Chatsworth, they wandered around the grounds of the Westcliff Stadium where a makeshift camp was set up.
S’nikiwe Sibanda had just returned from an Easter break in Zimbabwe with her four-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son when they were attacked and forced out of their informal settlement home.
“We can’t even go back to get their uniforms,” she said.
The Grade 4 child was a pupil at Malvern Primary School.
Meanwhile, Mohadi said the government would act if there were any attacks against Zimbabweans.
“I was actually in South Africa last week and I never saw any xenophobic attacks on Zimbabweans,” he said.
“If there was any xenophobic violence, Zimbabwe would do something, but there is nothing like that at the moment.”
Zimbabweans were among the worst affected in the last xenophobic attacks that occurred in 2008.
− IOL/ Privilege Shoko