Malawi returnees tell of being ‘hunted like dogs’ in South Africa

Malawians fleeing xenophobic violence in South Africa told Tuesday of how they escaped marauding death mobs and vowed never to return to the country where they had sought a new life.

Malawians protest in Lilongwe against xenophobia in South Africa

Malawians protest in Lilongwe against xenophobia in South Africa

Malawians fleeing xenophobic violence in South Africa disembark a bus in Blantyre on April 20, 2015 after being repatriated (AFP Photo/Bonex Julius)

Malawians fleeing xenophobic violence in South Africa disembark a bus in Blantyre on April 20, 2015 after being repatriated (AFP Photo/Bonex Julius)

A group of 390 Malawians fleeing xenophobic violence in South Africa wait at Kamudzu stadium on April 20, 2015 in Blantyre, after being repatriated (AFP Photo/Bonex Julius)

A group of 390 Malawians fleeing xenophobic violence in South Africa wait at Kamudzu stadium on April 20, 2015 in Blantyre, after being repatriated (AFP Photo/Bonex Julius)

Holding her one-year-old daughter in her arms, Malawian Agnes Salanje said she “faced death” during the wave of anti-immigrant violence that has claimed at least seven lives.

“We could have been killed as these South Africans hunted for foreigners, going from door to door,” Salanje, who was a domestic worker in the Indian Ocean port city of Durban, told AFP.

Nearly 400 Malawian refugees arrived overnight in the city of Blantyre in the south of the country, where they were met by government ministers and officials.

The attacks on foreigners have sparked a wave of anger and protests against South Africa across the rest of the continent.

Salanje, who was paid $200 a month, said she escaped the attackers after being “tipped off by a good neighbour and we ran to a mosque to seek shelter.”

“I will not go back. It is better to be poor than be hunted like dogs because you are a foreigner,” she said.

“I lost everything. I only managed to grab a few clothes for myself and my baby Linda.”

South African authorities have struggled to contain mobs in the economic capital Johannesburg and Durban who have been attacking foreigners from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and other African countries.

Foreigners are often the focus of resentment among poor South Africans who face a chronic jobs shortage.

Chisomo Makiyi, 23, who worked at a clothes manufacturing factory in Durban, is still puzzled why they were attacked.

“Had I not run away to safety, I would not be here,” she said.

“I just don’t know why all of a sudden they start hating foreigners and giving them two choices — be killed or go home.”

Makiyi pledged to never return to South Africa despite “the good pay of $280 (a month) which back home would be a dream.”

On average, civil servants in Malawi get $100 per month while labourers receive only $50.

“My life is more important than a good salary,” she said. “I am better off being poor and without a good job than be killed in a foreign land.”

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46 thoughts on “Malawi returnees tell of being ‘hunted like dogs’ in South Africa”

  1. Kenneth leonnard says:

    Thanks to my country adiministration for its quick responds to repatriate its citisen in that ambiciase nation. Im strongly believe that if our country adiministration would do this all the time they hear its people crying malawi could be one of the reachest nation in africa. Im say this becouse i have been there in south africa. I know how ambiciase those people are. What this administration did each and every malawian is very proud.

  2. James says:

    This is really barbaric and uncalled for. There so many other South Africans living in other countries. Crime is not peculiar to a particular group of people. While it is true that some commits crime, it shouldn’t be an excuse to start killing any one that is not from same country as you. This readily shows the lack of order and law that is prevalent in SA

  3. Rev. A.W.R.Ngulube says:

    We can to China for busness, and more over we import about 50% of various goods from South Africa, we need grow all of us, growth take pains.

  4. Rev.A.W.R.Ngulube says:

    I have been in south Africa from 1999 to 2005, It’s very unfortunate for our brothers and Sisters down SA to behave like that; becoz no Country can depend on its own as said by many people.
    Let me remaind the South African that when Dr. Hasting Kamuzu Band had died, President Mandela had said, Dr. H.K. Band had posted three times money, cars for ANC to Nelson Mandela, then soon after the release from Robing Islands, this was was a confession made by Nelson Mandela, express gratitude and condolences to Malawian over the death of our President of Malawi.
    Dr.Kennth Kaunda, when I was in Zambia as a young person, the state was bomded by jets from Rhodesia, then now Zimbabwe, sent by Ian Smith, Kaunda succumbed the pressure from that Colonial Government then.
    The depence of one another is true,what about the south African themselves had to flee for cover, under the racism in South Africa.
    As a man of God, I can see the spirit of Death in the eyes of South Africa still reigns, may the good God, cleanse us from our sins, when confessed to Jesus, amen, but its painful for me as a Malawian to kill my brothers and sisters, down there in south Africa, becoz, I don’t think this about job issue foreigners are taking from……
    These are last days Malawian, we have under gone disasters and this one the lastest disaster. Amen God bless our nation, and proud to be a Malawian.

  5. Woooo says:

    Welcome everybody at home mwadzunzika mmwamva! Mwatipeza kwathuu tisaukire linodzi

  6. J.J.J.Sonke says:

    Our trade imbalance with South Africa is 1 in 6. We import roughly for 436 million dollar from South Africa, and they buy for about USD 70 million from us. I calculated that the difference assures South Africans of at least 100,000 jobs ! South Africa is relatively rich because all poor neighboring SADC countries spend their development aid money there.
    They would be in real trouble if that would stop. Shame on them. The “engine of growth” for Africa. My foot.

  7. mphatso says:

    Mfumu yosadziwa kulankhula ngati iyi sindinayionepo.
    1 he says people misquoted him.does it mean his own people are foolish they dont understand their own king when he talks?
    2.he blames the media for his foul tongue forgetting these days everything is recorded.he is the one who talks without thinking he cant understand himself and you call him Good will pardon me …..illwill or badwill

  8. daudi mj says:

    If u look at this issue of xenophobic attacks, the only negative area z the kiiling only. If u analyse well, u wil c that 98% of passport applicants head to RSA. In addition to that there r also other nationals from Nigeria, Zimbabwe,Mozambiquans n others. Anthu anyanya kuchulukanako, mukalephera sukulu ur destination z RSA basi. Poor timing. Wat they could do was/z to source capital in RSA osati kukhazikika ngati ndi kumudzi. Unemployment z everywhere, so wy foreigners taking bread meant for the citizens? Take positives in this text not negatives, u wil learn something out of this text

  9. Malawi Wake Up says:

    Don’t worry,we have a billionaire here , he will sort all off you out.

  10. East or west home is best

  11. Robson says:

    joshua analikwani osakuloterani kt muzibwera mfumu yoipa ija isananene?nanga ena asalakowo akukakamirako chiyani? ifetu takwiya tikufuna kuthana nawo matsotsiwo tiwaloza asamapite kuchimbuzi.nanga asing’anga athu awathamangisaso?

  12. Blessings says:

    Kuonongetsa Ndalama za boma muva mawa omweo apitaso.

  13. Che Patrick says:

    Sorry state in South Africa. Welcome back home malawians. Home is always Best.

  14. mjomba says:

    Zebe ndiwe wa bodza ambiri ndi atumbuka, akuphelembe ku Mzimba, Nkhatabay ndi Rumphi, fufuza bwino bwino uona ma bus akamakawasiya mmakwao.

  15. mjomba says:

    Zebe ndiwe wa bodya ambiri ndi atumbuka, akuphelembe ku Mzimba, Nkhatabay ndi Rumphi, fufuza bwino bwino uona ma bus akamakawasiya mmakwao.

  16. zebe says:

    Mutati mupange kafukufuku mupeza kuti ambiriwa mwa anthu abwerawa kwawo ndi ku Mangochi. Achawa kuthawa sukulu ndipo ndi mbatama zokhazokha. Anyway mwafika nthawi yabwino yokuti tikukolola. Mudya nawo za kumunda ngakhale simunalime nawo. Anthu mukulalatira Zuma kodi kumeneku kukhale kukamira dziko la eni ake lomwero? Ngati akunena kuti kuno ayi sitikukufunani bwanji osayang’ana kwina kopita? Kapena kupeza zina zochita. Ine pena pake ndikumaseka. The only part I hate is the killing but otherwise I don’t see anything wrong with chasing you. Inu mwabwera nanunso chase the Burundians with whom you cannot compete in business.

  17. nTOMBI says:

    i am so ashamed to call myself a South African, this is so wrong and not even poverty justifies this. no human being should be treated this way.

  18. apundi says says:

    abale mwachita bwino kubwerako tiyeni tizidya bonya yemweyo kusiyana ndikufa,

  19. MELINDA says:

    eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!umphawi sizinthu

  20. DOBO says:

    A Malawi ndi anthu opondezedwa mdziko lawo lomwe kongoti a Malawi ndi anthu opilira. Alibe kothawira tsopano.Chakudya kuno ku malawi ndi chodula,msonkho okwera,ntchito kulibe,umbava patsongolo,kuyimba foni kwenikweniku nkodula,malipiro apa ntchito zochepa kalezo ndi otsika,etc ndiye a Malawi athawire kuti?

  21. Wati says:

    So sad.

  22. Zoe says:

    Civil servant amalandila $100? which civil servant with what qualifications. mabodza awo. Ur comparing 2 different things. Amagwira mmboma amalandira $200. Ur giving people the wrong impression

  23. wasoka manson says:


  24. civil servant wamkulu says:

    Pepani azibale athu.Mwakomana ndi zokhoma.True that we civil servants in Malawi gets less than 100 pin per month,but from that salary we have managed to build mansions,bought cars,drink from one to thirty,send our kids to expensive private schools and sometimes even paying rentals for concubines.Look how clever a Malawian civil servant is.Takulandirani pa Nyasaland apa.

  25. Daniel Phiri says:

    Is it true that civil servants earn $100 per month on average? Mwayamba bodza. And what is on average? what civil servant grade represents the average?

  26. Newx ichocho says:

    Eta eta ora ora siyadoba siwena

  27. JOHN SAMUEL says:


  28. Zangaphe says:

    Ena akubwera pomwe ena akupita konko kumasemphana mnjira Mulungu tisamalireni.

  29. Kenneth duwa says:

    Am vry shocked wth this sad story.Bt is only God who can judge 4 dis incident bcoz zuma &his followerz they do dat things deliberately they were knw at the end result it bring negative/postive effects,so Zuma wot 2 cheat the africans countries dat 4gve 4wat request boko haram let u go dat side only amonth 2presurising them inorder 2revenge. They do wrong 2many pple in surrounded south africa countries

  30. nshilimubemba says:

    I do agree these people should be compensated for the loss of their hard earned lively wood . Malawians have helped south africa to develop through and through. How ever they never supported the liberation of the southern nation as it was the policy of Kamuzu Banda. He was a different kind of a leader . My point is when foreigners are in your land in most cases it is for your benefit , because you can learn some survival skills from them. South Africans are a misplaced people who can’t see beyond the negative eye . People who trek to go and settle in foreign lands are a great hard working lot , who can’t allow any circumstances to block them from their vision . To me I feel Malawians are part of such a people, the people I know of are Zimbabweans, zimbabweans are unstoppable, they are hard working and innovative who have gone to live in foreign lands not because of Mugabe but that they love to travel and live in other lands , and indeed they succeed in their endeavours. I can remember Zimbabweans are the ones who taught Zambians to do private businesses , furniture production, tables chairs etc. Zambians never traded in furniture on individual private enterprise , now Zambians have taken it to a much higher level the making of wash basins was learnt from Zimbabweans and a lot more businesses . Our friends in the south are arrogant for nothing they are living 30years behind other African nations .foreigners are not to blame for their demise but their leaders who haven’t upgraded their living standards. Just imagine in this age these people are still using bucket toilets.Their leaders have failed to do their work, Zima is one of their hold back as he continues to steal from them just look at his Nkhandla kingdo

  31. Che Matola says:

    Zowona zinali zowopsadi koma mukalemba nkhani osamakonda kupanga compare currency kuti kumudzi kuno ndalama imeneyo ndi mwakuti,ndalama mukuyikambayi ndiyochepa kwambiri kufanizira ndi living standard ya pa Mzansi ndichifukwa chake ambiri amapezeka akukhala m’mabobosi kuti mwina angakokele pamene civil servant wa pa Malawi $100 amakhalabe kanyumba kabwino,mchitidwe umenewu womati ndalama imeneyi ndikulandilayi ku Malawi ndimalipiro abwana ndiumene umachititsa achinyamata ambiri kumathamangira ku Mzansi,mwabwanaso ambiri amapezerapo mwayi wa cheap labour.

  32. lamya gunda says:

    $100000USD should the minimum compensation for those returnees or else close the commision viva Malema step down Zuma you havefailed

  33. Emmie says:

    Mtundu wanga iwe ukuvutikiranji chonchi???

  34. A nyima says:

    Eee koma guys nde mubisale chifukwa ndamva zoti akubwera konkuno ndi zikwanje ati amalawi simumanva kukonda kugwira ntchito zopusa nde sakusiyani mpaka mu mine.

  35. MAYO MAYO says:

    Wena akufuna zomanysmuka lero

    Wena akukakamira komweko

    Koma umphawiwu guys

  36. jpasidya says:

    i am think deepely because my uncle own several tracks and houses.

  37. you too says:

    Am told some are illiterate to the extent that they can’t write their own names. Do you expect such people to earn any respect in a foreign country?

  38. Golden Tseteka says:

    Don’t Worry Home Is Best.Ur Welcome. God Knows Everything Here Will Be Okey. Our Government Will Help U, to Find Jobs.

  39. eliza says:

    Welcome hme guys tidyere limodzi maungu mmidzimu

  40. A Moyo says:

    Praise God you are back home at last while your colleagues have lost their lives.

  41. Masoapatali adaongola Mtengo. says:

    Prosperity does not depend on your place of residence. It’s in you, regardless of where you are.So if you want to be rich, do it in Malawi.

  42. Chris luka says:

    Takulandilani ndithu sitikudani ayi poti malandiwo mumadya nokha bt pepani mwafika nthawi yachilala kmanso kusefukira kwa madzi kunsi kwa mtsinje wa shire kma poti Yehova samataya yake atisamala ndinthu

  43. kapeya says:

    Takulandirani kwanu nkwanu, mukhale mwaufulu, God will compesatew you.

  44. Musapiteso says says:

    CHONDE azuma atitengele ma salaries athu ku ana awo awatumize ku reserve bank tikatenga.

  45. ziko says:

    South Africans are barbaric animals and they behave as such. They have no respect for human life.

    I think we should butcher a few of them out here and they will feel the pain.

  46. matako m'mwamba says:

    Takulandiraninso kuno kumudzi. Chonde muonetse luso lanu potukula dzikoli ndi luso lanu. Malawi the warm heart of Africa.

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