South African workers must go

South African police encourage a group of foreign nationals to move back to their homes after a peace march in Durban on April 16, 2015. At least four people have been killed in a wave of anti-immigrant violence that started two weeks ago in Durban. Photo: Rogan Ward
Maputo – South Africans working in Mozambique on Thursday faced threats of reprisals in retaliation for the pogroms against foreign workers in Durban – but in the event no violence occurred.

Mozambican workers at the natural gas treatment facilities of the South African company Sasol, in Inhambane province, demanded the removal of the 250 South Africans working there.

They held a peaceful demonstration against the xenophobic riots in Durban, and argued that, if Mozambicans were not welcome in South Africa, then South Africans should not be welcome in Mozambique either.

The Inhambane provincial governor, Agostinho Trinta, went to the Sasol premises for a long, and apparently inconclusive, meeting with the workers.

He asked them to forgive the South Africans – but they shouted back: “No!”

Briefing reporters later in the day, Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi said that the South Africans were still in Inhambane and he was hopeful of a normalisation of the situation.

In the western province of Tete, South Africans working for Kentz, a construction company sub-contracted by the Brazilian mining giant Vale, also came under threat. Baloi said that they had left Mozambique. It is not yet clear whether they will return.

Baloi urged Mozambicans to abandon any idea of reprisals. “We have every right to be indignant, but we do not have the right to take the law into our own hands,” he said.

At least two Mozambicans have died in the Durban violence, and 400 have lost their homes. Baloi said that around 200 have asked to be repatriated. The first group of 90 left Durban on Thursday to return to Maputo via Swaziland.

* IOL will be monitoring developments on this issue. Readers can also check Independent Media’s print publications for further in-depth coverage.

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