A SOUTH African female traditional leader has called for the removal of Zimbabweans staying at Dididi Village in Thohoyandou in Limpopo Province, sparking fears of xenophobic attacks in the neighbouring country.
The remarks by Chief Sophy Ramovha follow the recent murder of a villager, Amen Nemadodzi (25), allegedly by a gang of three suspected Zimbabweans.
Mr Nemadodzi, a truck driver, was recently hacked to death at a tavern at Dididi Village and the local community has accused a Zimbabwean of the murder.
"As a traditional leader, I am quite saddened by this brutal killing of a member of our community. In light of that incident, I support the idea of removing Zimbabweans from Dididi and surrounding communities.
" We cannot tolerate the situation where the lives of our communities are in danger because of people coming from other countries," she said.
One of the suspects, Percy Dzikamai, has since been arrested. He appeared at the Thohoyandou Magistrates' Court, facing a murder charge and was remanded in custody to April 9.
The deceased's family spokesman, Mr Johana Masevhe, also directed his anger towards the Zimbabweans in the area.
"We don't want to see them in our areas because the Zimbabweans are very cruel. Some of them are killing and terrorising our residents. We urge the law to take a stand and help us in removing all Zimbabweans from our area, particularly those without valid documents," he said.
Nemadodzi was in a tavern at Dididi village when he was allegedly confronted by the three suspects who demanded money.
During the alleged dispute, one of the suspects went home and returned carrying a sword, which he allegedly used to stab Nemadodzi to death.
One of the suspects reportedly sustained injuries and had to be rushed to hospital after he was allegedly attacked by an angry mob before police saved him. Since the incident, local villagers and surrounding communities have reportedly been up in arms with Zimbabweans, saying they do not want to see them in their area.
Zimbabwe's Consular General Mr Batiraishe Henry Mukonoweshuro said he was not aware of the developments. He, however, said they would make investigations and make a follow up on the matter.
Of late, Zimbabweans living in Vhembe District , Limpopo Province have been the subjected to ridicule and blame for various crimes, with locals taking it upon themselves to "weed out" foreigners for reportedly "fuelling" crime in the area.
In March 2015, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini was accused of sparking the xenophobic outbreaks in the province that led to the deaths of five people in Durban and KwaZulu Natal, before spreading to other provinces, resulting thousands of foreigners being displaced.
South African media reported that King Zwelithini called for the deportation of foreigners in South Africa, saying it was unacceptable for South Africans to compete with people from other countries for the few economic opportunities available.
The latest development comes barely two weeks after South African President Cyril Ramaphosa urged his citizens to welcome and embrace foreigners from the continent as the country moves to be part of a pact to enable free movement of people and encourage trade and investment after signing a protocol at the just ended African Union (AU) summit in Kigali, Rwanda.
South Africa and 43 other countries last month signed a declaration establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, which will create the world's largest free trade zone after 40 years of negotiations.