Malawi Repatriates All Citizens from South Africa over Xenophobic Violence

AP Photo/Shiraaz Mohamed
AP Photo/Shiraaz Mohamed

The Malawian government decided to bring back all their citizens from South Africa due to escalating violence against foreigners.

A 14-year-old boy is one of five foreigners who died in Durban, the second most populous urban area in South Africa, last week. The locals attack shops and properties owned by foreigners. They claim these people took their jobs and money, while calling the migrants “kwerekwere,” which is a “derogatory word for foreigners in South African slang.” Some foreigners in Johannesburg shut down their stores.

Zimbabwe condemned the attacks, but Malawi is the only country so far to recall their citizens. The first group of citizens will return over this upcoming weekend. Over 420 Malawians live in camps in Durban placed in a soccer field. One Malawian told the BBC he witnessed “some Malawians being killed – including a close friend who was burned alive.” There are over 5,000 foreigners without a home in Durban.

“Resolutely as a nation we must condemn in the strongest possible terms attacks on anyone of the basis of their geographic origins,” the African National Congress said in a statement. “As we celebrate 21 years of freedom this month, we do so knowing that this freedom should be shared and owned by the peoples of Africa as whole; many of whom come from countries who were nothing but friends to the South African people during our dark days of apartheid brutality. These unpardonable attacks against them are a shameful assault our very humanity.”

Human rights activist Billy Mayaya announced a group of activists will protest at the South Africa embassy in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) urged the Malawi and South African governments to protect the Malawians, “including arranging for compensation for loss of property, life and dignity as citizens of the earth who are guaranteed the right to settle in South Africa by its own Constitution and under the Universal Declaration of fundamental Humans rights which both nations adopted.”

“There has been an outpouring of support from ordinary South Africans who are disgusted with the attacks not only because they are foreign, or African, but because they are fellow human beings,” stated the Gift of the Givers charity. “We are preparing aid packages for those who may journey onwards to their home countries.”

The charity reported that 8,500 “fled to refugee centers or police station this week.” The group said the number could be higher since it does not include people who went to private accommodations.


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