Wednesday, January 11, 2006

South Africa riots involving Zimbabweans.

Africa: This is a indirect result of South Africa indulging Mugabe with their soft diplomacy and having refugees going from one bad situation to another. South Africa is already bad off with unemployment and crime, the refugees are a ready made excuse.

A south African slum was strewn with debris and the shells of burnt out cars yesterday after three people died in unrest sparked by an influx of migrants from Zimbabwe. Choba squatter camp, 20 miles south of the capital, Pretoria, has had 10 days of unrest in a throwback to the riots that occurred in the worst days of apartheid. Hundreds of thousands of desperate Zimbabweans have fled the economic crisis and repression of President Robert Mugabe's rule. Unprecedented numbers have poured into South Africa, competing for jobs and housing, and causing massive resentment. The scale of the influx is shown by the incessant deportation of illegal immigrants back home. Last week alone, South Africa sent back 6,000. Last year more than 97,000 were deported. Countless others slip through the net. Official figures released by Mr Mugabe's regime in 2004 suggested that 3.4 million Zimbabweans, one quarter of the population, lived abroad, with 1.2 million in South Africa. Many end up in slums like Choba, where at least 20,000 people live in shacks of corrugated iron and plastic sheeting. South Africans blame crime and unemployment on the new arrivals. "The Zimbabwean people steal, in the night they kill and they take money," said Timothy Mbanba, 57. "People here want to work for 60 rands (£5.60) per day. But the Zimbabweans will work for 30 rands or 20 rands so the businessmen hire Zimbabweans and they take our jobs." Unemployment in South Africa stands at 26 per cent. The anger in Choba boiled over on Christmas Eve after an altercation between a Zimbabwean and the South African owner of a hair salon. It resulted in the murder of a South African. Gangs of South Africans armed with hammers, whips and spades began attacking foreigners, with migrants from Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique among the victims. Midrous Chirwa, a 29-year-old Zambian, hid from a mob of dozens of men. He watched them assault a Malawian friend, Walles Mbele, 27. "One hit him on the head with a hammer, then they all hit him with spades and whips," said Mr Chirwa. "They tore off his clothes, stole his wallet, passport and phone, and left him bleeding." A gang of Zimbabweans, some with rifles and handguns, launched a retaliatory strike on Choba on Tuesday. They hurled petrol bombs into shacks, assaulted the occupants and set cars ablaze. Two men were killed in fighting. One, a Zimbabwean, was burned to death. Robert Matshete, a local leader of the ruling African National Congress, said "xenophobia" among South Africans was a growing problem.

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