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In Former Refuge South Africa, Zimbabweans Targeted By Mobs


Mob violence against foreigners in Johannesburg and elsewhere in South Africa continued Monday despite police efforts to end killing sprees of which Zimbabweans were a prime target. Sources estimated that some 20 Zimbabweans had died since the latest outburst of violence inspired by xenophobia flared on the weekend.

News reports and direct sources said mobs continued to roam the city's poorer neighborhoods, burning shacks, looting stores, and attacking immigrants.

Authorities said 22 people had been confirmed to have died in the violence, and South African police said they had arrested 217 people.

But the Pretoria government refused to declare a state of emergency or call upon the army to maintain order as urged by a prominent Methodist bishop whose church has sheltered many Zimbabwean immigrants and came under attack on Sunday.

Correspondent Benedict Nhlapho of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe told reporter Sithandekile Mhlanga that by late Monday police had established a heavy presence on the streets of Johannesburg districts worst hit by the violence.

The Zimbabwe Exiles Forum said about 20 Zimbabweans were among the dead.

Its director, Gabriel Shumba, said thousands more have been displaced by the attacks on Zimbabwean communities in Alexandra, Thembisa and Primrose.

Shumba told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that despite the deadly xenophobic rampage, most Zimbabweans in South Africa are reluctant to go home given the prospect hunger as well as mounting political violence there.

But Zimbabwean expatriate George Shumba of Thokoza, a large township outside Johannesburg, said that he is so fearful for his life that he intends to go home to Zimbabwe as soon as he can collect his last paycheck.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

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