More than 100 foreign families, including Zimbabweans based in Lebowakgomo, about 56km outside Polokwane were on Tuesday left homeless following attacks by South Africans in fresh xenophobic violence.
The South Africans in Makurung Village were reportedly accusing Zimbabweans of stealing from their houses.
Authorities who declined to be named said the foreigners sought refuge in nearby villages after their houses were burnt down in the xenophobic attacks that were targeting men and boys.Zimbabwe’s consul-general in South Africa Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro confirmed the incident yesterday, but declined to give details, saying investigations were underway.
“We received reports of fresh xenophobic attacks in a village just outside Polokwane. I can’t give more details because investigations are still going on,” said Mukonoweshuro.
South African media reports say Lebowakgomo Police spokesperson, Manong Tshehla confirmed that locals were forcing foreign nationals out of the village.
Foreign nationals, including a number of traders, were forced to move to neighbouring villages for safety as locals ransacked their homes and businesses after accusing them of stealing locals’ belongings.
It is alleged that several homes and shops were looted since Tuesday and that a Zimbabwean had to leave his wife and children behind and flee for safety after his house was destroyed. Tshehla said attacks on foreigners had been looming in the area since last Sunday.
According to Tshehla, a community meeting on Tuesday resolved that all foreigners should leave the village.The police spokesperson said locals started moving from house to house telling foreigners to vacate the village.
Several houses, Tshehla said, were damaged and foreigners’ clothes were stacked outside and set alight.
The reports indicated that more than eight South Africans were arrested although the locals were still threatening to kill the foreigners if they did not leave their village.Earlier this year widespread attacks on foreigners resulted in governments that include Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Nigeria repatriating hundreds of their citizens who were displaced by the violence.
More than 5,000 Zimbabweans fleeing attacks were accommodated at temporary camps in Durban and most of them have since returned home.The South African authorities said seven people died but witnesses said the figure could be much higher.