Wednesday, February 25, 2009

7 Zimbabweans killed in SA

SEVEN Zimbabweans were killed in South Africa’s Western Cape province in a suspect arson attack on Sunday, Chronicle learnt yesterday.The seven, four men and three women, aged between 23 and 40, were living in a squatter camp in De Dooms, near Worcester. Captain Marie Louw of the South African police yesterday said people who witnessed the incident told them the fire was started on purpose, prompting police to change their inquest to a murder investigation. “All the people who were inside the shack died,” said Cpt Louw. No arrests have been made. The Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa is investigating the incident but has dismissed reports that the attacks were xenophobic.Last year, at least 62 foreigners were killed in South Africa while thousands were driven away from their homes in a two-week frenzy of xenophobic violence targeting mostly migrants from neighbouring countries, such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi.The mobs blamed foreigners for stealing their jobs, women as well as fuelling crime.
There were fears that the arson attack could be related to xenophobia, but in a telephone interview with our Harare Correspondent, Ambassador Simon Khaya Moyo, said the attacks were not related to xenophobia. “The attack is very disturbing and we are currently working with relevant authorities so that we get to know the truth behind the attacks. “I have instructed our consular general in Johannesburg to follow up the matter and he might have to go to Cape Town to get to the bottom of the case,” he said.Cde Moyo said his office had received two different reports on the case.“We have heard that the issue involved a woman but this has been dismissed by people in the area. We have also received reports that a group of people were chasing a thief who ran into the shack,” he said.Cde Moyo said the chasing crowd surrounded the shack before pouring petrol on it and burning it.“These are preliminary reports but we are working closely with the police so that we get more information, which would be released in due course,” he said.Cde Moyo said indications were that the incident was not a xenophobic attack.“This is an arson attack and we do not believe that it was xenophobic. This is different from what we experienced last year and those attacks were not targeted at Zimbabweans only because Somalis, Mozambicans, Zambians and others were also victims.“We have very good relations with South Africans and this cannot be a xenophobic attack,” he said.One of the women burnt in the attack has been identified as Joyce Kamudyariwo (33) of Mufakose.

Sapa/Chronicle Reporter/ Harare Bureau.

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