At least 76 Malawians fleeing xenophobic attacks in South Africa have arrived in Malawi in government sponsored buses and warned others not to go to the Rainbow nation, saying the situation remains volatile.
The returnees, who arrived on Thursday at Njamba Freedom Park in Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre, where welcomed by officials from the Department of Disaster Management Affairs (Dodma), Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ministry of Health, Immigration and other concerned stakeholders like Malawi Red Cross Society.
There was also a mobile clinic where the returnees were being screened with focus on Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, Diarrhea and sexually transmitted diseases, among others.
Likewise, Immigration Department took the trouble to screen them as well before being dispatched to their respective homes having received K25000 each from government while Malawi Red Cross Society was not only there to provide first aid assistance, but also linking the returnees with their relations through phone calls.
Out of the 76, 14 are children aged between 4 and 11 and come from Mangochi, Thyolo, Nsanje, NkhataBay, Mzimba, Mulanje, Chitipa, Balaka and Chikwawa.
One of them, Peter Phiri thanked government for shouldering logistical costs and ensuring that they return home safely.
Phiri said he wouldn’t dare to go back to South Africa saying he has learnt the hard way.
“Home is best my brother….. there is no freedom in RSA. Our lives were not safe, but we we thank government for organizing transport and food for all of us. I have no interest to go back to Pretoria, “said Phiri who also claimed to have lost his property to South Africans during the wave of xenophobic attacks.
Another victim, who didn’t want to be named, expressed worry over her husband whose whereabouts is not known there.
She said she escaped the brutal attacks when her husband was still at work and could not get hold of each other.
“I managed to escape with my babies (five months identical twins) to a community centre hoping to reunite with my husband, but things didn’t go that way.
“Efforts to trace him proved futile. I trust he managed to escape to some safer place. I lost everything including phone thats why we could not reach each other, and he is not aware among those that have returned home. He must be be equally worried about me and the babies, ” she said.
Prior to their repatriation, they were provided with basic and moral support by the Malawi government through the Malawi High Commission in the Republic of South Africa, International Organisation for Migration and Gift of Givers.
In his remarks, Principal Secretary in the Department of Disaster Management Affairs Wilson Mollen thanked them for resolving to return home.
Mollen disclosed that repatriation exercise has cost government K30 million cartering for all expenses.
“It was necessary give them transport and government, through Dodma will ensure they accorded the all support to resettle and become productive, ” said Mollen.
Moleni said DoDMA is collaborating with other ministries and government departments to ensure that these displaced Malawians are supported all the way to their various destinations in Malawi.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :