Undocumented foreigners – especially Zimbabweans – living in Seshego, Polokwane, and neighbouring communities have been given a New Year’s Day deadline to leave the area by community leaders.
As ongoing tensions between foreign nationals and locals escalate, Zimbabweans living at Mmotong, Blood River and Makgofe villages have been leaving the area in large groups.
A shack, which used to belong to a Zimbabwean couple, was burnt down and a Somali tuck shop was looted last week.
Angry residents have been agitating for the repatriation of foreigners after a Zimbabwean, Temba Dube, confessed to kidnapping and murdering seven women around Seshego.
On Saturday, during the official opening of the offices of the Seshego Community Against Gangsterism and Crime (Scagac), leaders reiterated that all undocumented foreigners should leave the area by 1 January.
During this emotion-charged gathering, Scagac chairperson Vincent Kunutu and secretary Victor Makhura said they don’t condone xenophobic attacks. But they warned that foreigners need to get their paperwork in order.
“We know that not all Zimbabweans are criminals but we don’t want any illegal foreigners in our communities. We are going ahead with chasing them and they must have left by the end of New Year’s Day,” Kunutu said.
However, some residents have said they will chase Zimbabweans out before 1 January.
While Machel Mamabolo said that he is not xenophobic, he told Scrolla.Africa that he wanted Zimbabweans gone as soon as possible.
“We are just fighting crime here and the criminal elements in our midst are those from Zimbabwe,” claimed Mamabolo.
Zimbabwean residents in Harare informal settlements, west of Polokwane, have vowed to fight to stay permanently.
“If those people want war, then war is what they will get. We are here to stay and no one is going to chase us,” said Nyakazino Sizimba.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said officers were assaulted and their vehicles pelted with stones when they went to arrest undocumented foreign nationals.
“During the arrest, one of the foreign nationals allegedly took out a knife and advanced towards the police members, allegedly threatening to stab them. He was shot and injured.”