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Several Malawians arrested in South Africa

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said the Malawi Embassy in South Africa will have to verify reports that many fun-loving Malawians were arrested in Durban beachfront on New Year’s Day.

This follows claims by South Africa Police Minister Bheki Cele that police had arrested 121 foreigners who were without documents.

Cele claimed that most of those arrested were Malawians.

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“We have arrested 121 undocumented people in this beach. One and half hours ago, 121 of them and counting. We just ask them in big groups, you ask papers, no passport, no papers no nothing and most of them, they come from Malawi,” Cele told state-owned SABC.

During the festive season, South Africa intensifies patrols and the country’s security agencies become more interested in places where people are partying to crack down on illegal immigrants.

In August last year, the country’s police nabbed close to 600 undocumented foreigners in Johannesburg alone.

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Some of them were Malawians and they were deported from the Rainbow Nation even though authorities had initially not disclosed the nationalities of those they were keeping.

South Africa’s Parliament Committee on Home Affairs said while immigrants contribute to the country’s growth, illegal immigration should not be left to flourish and called for the deportations.

Reacting to reports that among those arrested in Durban on New Year’s Day were Malawians, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Rejoice Shumba said details would be available once the Malawi Embassy in South Africa has verified the reports.

More than 2.1 million people are believed to have descended on the beaches of eThekwini metro to celebrate the start of the New Year.

Meanwhile, Mzuzu-based social commentator, Emily Mkamanga, has said the arrest of Malawians without documents in South Africa speaks volumes of the situation in Malawi.

Mkamanga said many Malawians travel to South Africa in search of jobs, adding that most of them take huge risks of staying in the Rainbow Nation because of unbearable conditions back in their country.

“What we need are jobs here. If we can create more jobs for our people here, including the youths, we can avoid some of these circumstances.

“It is high time the country started creating real jobs instead of just talking about it. In this new year, authorities need to give job creation some serious thought,” Mkamanga said.

In September last year, about 75 of Malawians displaced by xenophobic attacks in South Africa returned home after the government had repatriated them.

They had spent weeks at a guarded camp in Johannesburg following the violent attacks that left 12 people dead. At that time over 110 had been displaced but only around 75 turned up for repatriation, according to Commissioner for Disaster, Wilson Moleni.

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