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By Lunga Simelane

Journalist


Zimbabwean truck drivers warn against calls for foreigners to leave SA

“Imagine a driver who has been harassed by the ATDF, lost their documents, beaten up and sent home. How will that person react when he sees a South African truck operating in the Zimbabwean or Mozambican borders?"


A truck driver from Zimbabwe is pleading with organisations calling for foreigners to leave South Africa to allow the law to take its course. In January, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi gazetted that all Zimbabwean exemption permit holders had 12 months to apply for one or other visas provided for in the Immigration Act and the validity of the expired permits had been extended to 31 December. ALSO READ: Zimbabwe Exemption Permits: Motsoaledi will ‘rigorously defend spurious court actions’ However, Owen Mapuranga said the work of organisations such as the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF) and Operation Dudula (Zulu for…

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A truck driver from Zimbabwe is pleading with organisations calling for foreigners to leave South Africa to allow the law to take its course.

In January, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi gazetted that all Zimbabwean exemption permit holders had 12 months to apply for one or other visas provided for in the Immigration Act and the validity of the expired permits had been extended to 31 December.

ALSO READ: Zimbabwe Exemption Permits: Motsoaledi will ‘rigorously defend spurious court actions’

However, Owen Mapuranga said the work of organisations such as the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF) and Operation Dudula (Zulu for push back) had placed more pressure on something which was already laid down by the government.

“It is kind of abrupt and disrupting the process already in place,” he said.

“To them, they believe they are enforcing the law but to someone else, it is a bit too much to take.”

Mapuranga said they were not being given a chance to gather their paperwork and ensure their things were in order. He said the process was now aggressive and their safety was threatened, which would incite more violence.

“Foreigners will go back to their countries but will remember in South Africa, they weren’t treated well,” he said.

“Imagine a driver who has been harassed by the ATDF, lost their documents, beaten up and sent home. How will that person react when he sees a South African truck operating in the Zimbabwean or Mozambican borders? With a mindset that he was once attacked, their reaction will be something else.”

Mapuranga said the law should be enforced properly but citizens were failing to understand the grace period given by the SA government. There was no need for these organisations to terrorise foreign nationals.

“When foreign drivers are back in their country and they decide to act by closing roads and delaying SA trucks from operating in those foreign countries, then the question would be, who is losing? And whose economy is suffering,” Mapuranga said.

ALSO READ: Zimbabwe says it respects SA’s decision to terminate exemption permits

But Soweto community leader Nhlanhla Lux Dlamini said South Africa was the only country on the African continent which was hosting Africans and thus could not be expected to continue to accommodate such “nonsense”.

Dlamini said Zimbabwe had the highest priority with home affairs than any other African country.

“If we are expected to do something for Zimbabwe then it must be done for the whole continent,” he said “Foreign nationals have occupied all jobs and undermined the labour law, which is the real act of lawlessness.”

On Saturday, a mob of several hundred people arrived at a migrant centre in Soweto – unemployed, wielding weapons and angry with foreigners they accuse of taking their jobs.

With unemployment at 35% and rising up to 65% among the youth, competition for jobs has spawned resentment among some jobless South Africans. In the past, xenophobic protests have morphed into violence.

Additional reporting AFP

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