The Zimbabwean government said Friday that it had dispatched 10 buses and two trucks to Johannesburg, South Africa to repatriate nationals displaced by the recent wave of xenophobic violence that left some 56 foreigners dead.
Tens of thousands of foreigners were displaced from their homes in Johannesburg and other cities by anti-foreigner attacks. Estimates in recent years of the number of Zimbabweans living in South Africa have ranged from 1 million to 3 million.
Zimbabwean Ambassador to South Africa Simon Khaya Moyo said the buses were parked at the Zimbabwean Consulate in Johannesburg and would leave around noon on Saturday loaded with a first batch of refugees from the violence.
Moyo told reporter Patience Rusere of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that some 5,000 Zimbabweans had been displaced and that he expected about half of those would take up the Harare government on its offer of transport home.
But Zimbabwean civic groups in South Africa said that while the embassy has placed ads in the South African media inviting Zimbabweans to take the buses home, many displaced expatriates do not know where to go to take up the offer.
Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum Chairman Sox Chikowera said he went on Friday to the consulate in Johannesburg and found no buses or trucks parked there, adding that he did not believe many long-term expatriates would accept the ride home.