Human rights activists are planning a protest at South Africa embassy in Lilongwe to express anger over the wave of xenophobic attacks on Malawi citizens and other foreigners in South Africa.
Billy Mayaya a human rights activist told Nyasa Times that they have already notified police about the protests planned for Tuesday next week. A petition will be delivered to the South African Ambassador.
“Malawians have been trekking to South Africa since the late 19th Century. They have contributed to the South African economy as blue collar workers in the mining industry as well as white collar workers in various professions. They have intermarried and call South Africa home. To suddenly be forcibly removed through acts of wanton violence is simply deplorable,” Mayaya told Nyasa Times.
“The majority of Malawians have relatives down south who have been victimised in this way. We demand stronger condemnation from the South African government as well as a statement from President Mutharika on the same.
“A few years ago, when xenophobic attacks took place in South Africa, the then Ambassador promised Malawians that never again and yet here we are seeing the horrible images of wanton savagery. In response, we shall deliver a strongly worded petition to demand more action from South Africa. We are tired of lip service,” he added.
Scores of Malawians took to Facebook and Twitter in support of the planned demonstration saying they hoped that other African countries would organise similar protests at every South African embassy.
The Human Rights Consultative Committee (HRCC) a network of 97 Human Rights NGO’s/CSO’s has also demanded Malawi Government and South African Governments to “immediately engage” towards protecting the over 360 Malawians affected including arranging for compensation for loss of property, life and dignity as citizens of the earth who are guaranteed the right to settle in South Africa by its own Constitution and under the Universal Declaration of fundamental Humans rights which both Nations adopted.
“HRCC believes that the South African Government needs not be reminded of the role its neighbours played when it was ravaged by wars and apartheid system which saw most of its citizens taking refuge in foreign countries.
“ We have large numbers of South Africans world over and to start attacks on foreigners whether regulated or unregulated is a serious cause the South Africans may not want to take as it has corresponding consequences to economic growth and its citizens residing elsewhere,” HRCC chairperson Robert Mkwezalamba said in a statement.
The rights group said while the Malawi Government may be pressed to repatriate its stranded citizens, the prime responsibility to protect, compensate, resettle or repatriate Malawians rests with the South African Government.
“ HRCC would like to make it clear that it holds the South African Government and its people responsible for the loss of life, property or otherwise suffered by Malawians.”
The Malawi government has decided to hire buses from South Africa to begin the voluntary repatriation of nationals caught in recent xenophobic attacks.
First batch of returnees from South African xenophobic attacks in Sunday, according to Minister of Information Kondwani Nankhumwa. They will be in six buses destined to holding/transit camps in Blantyre and Lilongwe.
“When returnees arrive at these centers, they will be screened by police, the immigration department and social welfare officials before being released to their respective homes,” he said.
The minister added that the government would also organize transport for returnees back to their respective villages.
Nankhumwa said the government had set aside 30 million Malawi kwacha [about $800,000] for the repatriation drive.
Hundreds of Malawians travel to South Africa each year in search of employment.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :