South Africa has repatriated 5,645 foreigners since the end of xenophobic attacks in late April, the government said yesterday. A Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, who said this in a statement, added that the foreigners chose to leave South Africa voluntarily.
Malawians made up the bulk of the foreigners, numbering 3,506, followed by Zimbabweans (1,440) Mozambicans (682), while Tanzanians had (17). Mr. Radebe said the repatriation process started soon after the latest spate of xenophobic violence ended in April.
"The Department of Social Development continues to work closely with other relevant departments, as well as civil society organisations to provide support to displaced foreign nationals,” Mr. Radebe said. The official also said over 1,000 foreigners received trauma counseling.
According to the statement, 10 women with children under 12 months of which three had just given birth were flown to their respective countries on their insistence. Mr. Radebe further said the department would continue to do its work to ensure that the underlying socio-economic issues that gave rise to tensions between South Africans and foreign nationals were dealt with.
He also defended the current Operation Fiela (meaning “sweep’’ in Sesotho language) launched after the end of the xenophobia attacks. He said the operation was meant to address the security challenges in a structured and coordinated manner.