The government has said it is monitoring the situation in South Africa to establish how best to assist Malawians who might be affected by a resurgence of xenophobic attacks targeting foreigners in that country.
Some South Africans have been attacking foreigners who they accused of snatching jobs meant for locals and trafficking drugs.
Asked about the situation in South Africa, Information, Civic Education and Communications Technology Minister, Mark Botomani, Tuesday said the government had established a task force to monitor the trends in South Africa and see how many people need help.
“As [the] government, we are very concerned that the attacks on foreigners have resurfaced in South Africa. We have discussed it and we have set aside a team which is monitoring the situation. We have received reports that some Malawians have been affected but we do not know their actual situation,” he said.
Botomani, who is the government’s spokesperson, urged relevant sectors to support Malawians who need help in South Africa.
“It is a multi-sectorial approach which is being managed by the ministries of Transport, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Social
Welfare,” he said.
Malawi acting High Commissioner to South Africa, Gloria Bamusi, Tuesday said her office had not received any report of Malawians being attacked but admitted that the situation was tense.
“The embassy has warned Malawians to avoid moving around in CBD [Central Business District]. We have not had any report but the situation is tense. Since the attacks have extended to truck drivers, it is not advisable and safe making trips here until such a time security is guaranteed,” Bamusi said in a telephone interview.
However, while the attacks have forced some business people to cancel their business trips to South Africa in fear of being attacked, some Malawians are still travelling to the Rainbow Nation.
“I was expected to go to South Africa to buy some items for my shops but I have suspended the trip due to the attacks. This is bad for us business people because we depend on our businesses for survival. We just pray that our government should negotiate with the South Africa government to end the attacks so that we can resume our lives back,” said Isaac Mpando a Mangochi District-based businessperson.
Sowetan newspaper reports that violent protests erupted on Monday with residents attacking and looting foreigners’-owned shops while truck drivers blockaded highways and set cars alight.
Last night, police said they were investigating a case of murder after a man was shot and killed in Hillbrow.
In KwaZulu-Natal, two trucks were set alight in Montclair, south of Durban and in the Western Cape, highways were blockaded by truck drivers who joined the nationwide protest against employment of foreigners.
In Gauteng, residents went on the rampage and looted shops in Jeppestown, Malvern, Tembisa, Turffontein, Johannesburg CBD, Hillbrow, Germiston and Pretoria.
The vandalism and ransacking of properties came on the backdrop of Pretoria being put on lockdown last week after the shooting and killing of Jabu Baloyi, a taxi driver who was gunned down by an alleged drug dealer.