PRETORIA – The Zambian High Commission in South Africa on Thursday advised Zambian nationals to exercise caution when they visit the neighbouring country, which has been plagued by incidents of widespread looting, vandalism and destruction of infrastructure.
“Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa Major-General Jackson Miti says Zambians who are considering travelling to KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces should avoid doing so until the unrest in some towns of these provinces comes to an end,” said Naomi Nyawali, spokesperson for the diplomatic mission.
“He advised truck drivers intending to travel to Durban to reschedule their plans as most parts of the N3 road, the main road to the city, still remains closed following the continued unrest that has flared up in the past few days.”
The high commission also advised cross-border traders planning to travel to Johannesburg to equally reschedule their plans as most shops have been closed due to the continued protests.
“He added that the high commission would continue monitoring the situation and advise Zambian travellers for their safety. General Miti indicated that the mission has not received any adverse reports concerning Zambian nationals,” said Nyawali.
“General Miti has urged Zambians in South Africa to reach out to the mission should they be caught up in the ongoing unrest.”
Thousands of members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have been deployed in parts of the country to support the South African Police Service (SAPS) in quelling the unrest.
Earlier, the C-19 People’s Coalition said small businesses, particularly informal trading stalls and spaza shops operated by immigrants in South Africa, have been targeted during the looting and vandalism that has rocked the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces for nearly a week.
“We note that the marginalised and vulnerable suffer most when accountable politics is in short supply; thus we raise the alarm about the targeting of spaza shops and street hawkers’ stalls owned by non-locals, indicating a strong xenophobic element in the mêlée,” said Danmore Chuma, a co-ordinator at the umbrella body of activist groups.
“The violence must be halted via a political response prioritising the safety, rights and accessing of basic needs for all. We are calling on all just people to hold government to account to act with political effectiveness prioritising the human rights of all.”
Chuma said South Africa was home to multiple foreign nationals, many fleeing repression in their home countries, who had sought refuge in the continent’s economic powerhouse “only to experience the double backlash against the poor, fuelled by our unaccountable state”.
“The South African government to date constantly fails to implement proper integration to support non-local South Africans – refugees, asylum seekers, immigrant workers and the poor – and to build cohesion within local communities,” he said.
“The crisis of ever-deepening inequality in the republic has fostered competition over scarce resources in communities, fuelling xenophobic tensions, often by politicians, as is happening now.”
He accused the government of consistently refusing to label the targeting of non-locals as xenophobia or to acknowledge its own attitude as xenophobic.