Malawi’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. George Chaponda on Sunday, 26 April, 2015 visited some Malawian nationals who have been affected by the recent xenophobia attacks in South Africa.
The Malawians numbering over 100 are being hosted at Mayfair Camp within the Anglican’s Christ Church premises within Johannesburg by the Gift of the Givers, an international NGO operating in South Africa.
The Minister who was enroute to a SADC extraordinary Summit in Harare, Zimbabwe was tasked by President Professor Peter Mutharika to assess the current situation on the ground as the two countries aim to discuss the matter further during the SADC summit.
The Minister was therefore accorded an opportunity to hear for himself the horrible instances Malawians went through when their homes were invaded and some attacked at their work places by South Africans demanding they leave South Africa immediately.
In one instance, a Malawian xenophobic victim narrated how he witnessed a fellow Malawian Hassan Mohammed from Malunga Village. T/A Mponda, Mangochi district being knifed by a mob, covered by a blanket and later set ablaze whilst still alive.
Young and single parent Fatima Maulidi with her six month old baby also had a story to tell and wished was back home in Malawi.
Others narrated how they spent days in the bush fearing for their life after having their homes vandalised or burnt and all their property taken away. Some of the victims had to trek down all the way from Durban into Johannesburg seeking safety at the Gift of Givers camp.
They all looked traumatized despite the excellent care by the Gift of Givers and all indicated to the Minister their willingness to return to Malawi at the earliest opportunity.
In response, the Minister assured the Malawians at the camp and elsewhere within South Africa, that the Government is committed to repatriate all willing Malawians back to Malawi and have them re-integrated back into their communities.
Dr. Chaponda further indicated that the Malawi government has embarked on a process of creating jobs in Malawi to address the current issue of unemployment which leads most Malawians seeking for jobs in such countries like South Africa.
“I know most of you come here to seek jobs. The government is in the process of setting up community technical colleges in all the constituencies across Malawi and eleven of such have been opened so far,” the Minister said.
“The colleges aim at imparting entrepreneurship skills to young men with a view to creating jobs,” the Minister said much to the appreciation of the victims.
As a step forward to the visit, Dr. Chaponda indicated the Malawi government would further engage the South African government on the issue. This as regards safe guarding the spirit of regional integration as promoted by such regional bodies like SADC, COMESA as well as the AU of which with xenophobia issues, such aspirations tend to be at risk.
The Minister concluded his visit to Mayfair camp by thanking Gift of the Givers for excellently running the camp and for all the provisions being made, the Anglican Church through Rev. Eve Abrahams for opening up their premises as well as the South African government for providing all the necessary security arrangements for the camp.
Meanwhile, Gift of the Givers has pledged to provide two buses to assist in repatriation of the Malawians at the camp back to Malawi within the course of the week.
In addition, they will also provide food packs for the other buses which will depart for Malawi carrying the remaining victims from Durban.