Another group of over 500 Malawians who survived xenophobic attacks in South Africa were again welcomed with tears on Friday night when they arrived in Blantyre on eight buses.
The group of returnees arrived through Kamuzu stadium where they were given blankets each.
Information Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa and Internal Security Minister Atupele Muluzi assured the returnees that government will help them reintegrate back in their home country.
President Peter Mutharika has since said his government hope by the end of next week, “all Malawians who want to come back home, they will come back home, and we will assist them in reinserting them and so forth.”
Mutharika said on Voice of America that he has been in touch with South African President Jacob Zuma ahead of the planned Southern African Development Community (SADC) meeting to be held in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, April 29.
He said warm diplomatic relations between Lilongwe and Pretoria will remain despite the xenophobic attacks, adding Malawi Foreign Minister George Chaponda will meet his counterpart in South Africa over the weekend.
“I am in touch with my brother, President Zuma, we will be talking and next week, we will have a summit of SADC in Harare and I am sure we will talk about these things, the subject is about integration,” Mutharika said.
While Mutharika government is talking of diplomatic talks, Malawians are angry and on Friday forced South African-owned shops in the country to be closed after calls for a boycott from activists who staged protests earlier this week.
A first group of 390 Malawians, mostly men and women aged between 18 and 30.arrived on Monday.
Bakari Rajab, a 47-year-old tailor said it will take him a long time to come to terms with the anti-immigrant volence v that has swept through South Africa and cost him everything he has.
“I was at home when I heard a loud bang on my neighbour’s door,” Rajab recalled. “When I opened my door to check, I saw men with clubs and machetes approaching my house.”
Rajab, a father of seven who has lived in South Africa for two years, decided immediately to run for his life.
“I am still traumatized,” he said bitterly. “They took all my money and tailoring machines.”
Rajab used to support his wife and pay his children’s school fees with money made from his tailoring business.
“I will find something else to do in Malawi to support my family,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA).
Adam Mustafa, a 21-year-old Malawian, used to work as a labourer at a Chinese warehouse in Durban before afrophobic attacks.
“They took my three phones and 2,500 rand [approximately $220], which I had left at the house,” he said tearfully to AA.
Mustafa survived the anti-immigrant attacks by hiding in a nearby bush until the marauding mobs left the area.
“I thought they would find us and hack us to death with their machetes and clubs,” he said. “But God saved us.”
Mustafa said:”There are fewer opportunities back in Malawi, but at least it’s safe [and] if people dislike you, it’s better to leave.”
The Malawian government has faced criticism over its decision to use South African rather than Malawian bus companies to evacuate citizens following the recent violence.
But Information Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa defended the move, saying the “urgency of the situation” forced them to hire South African buses which he also said “were cheaper.” Malawi was hiring each bus at 100,000 South African rand.
Hundreds of Malawians travel to South Africa each year in search of employment.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :