THE Zimbabwean Embassy in South Africa is monitoring the situation in Gauteng province mainly Johannesburg where police in that country have been rounding up foreign immigrants in the wake of recent clashes between the cops and vendors.
It is understood that more than 560 undocumented immigrants, the majority believed to be Ethiopians and other people from the Sadc region including Zimbabwe, were rounded up during a joint intelligence operation dubbed, “Operation O kae Molao”.
Some of the agencies implementing the operation comprise the Gauteng provincial traffic police and Saturation Unit, the Immigration Officers (Home Affairs), SARS Customs, the Joburg Metro Police Department and clothing brand owners.
The Chronicle understands that tensions have in the last two days been simmering between native South Africans and immigrants over the recent clashes between police and vendors.
The vendors are a mixture of nationalities though the majority are locals.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa David Hamadziripi said they have been in touch with a number of Zimbabweans in that country to ascertain their safety and ensure that their welfare and interests are safe guarded.
“I don’t have much information at the moment but the embassy and the consulate is monitoring events on the ground to ascertain the nature of the problem.
“So far we have reached out to many Zimbabweans around Gauteng and have been collecting information to make informed decisions on the way forward,” said the Ambassador.
According to the SABC, police arrested several undocumented foreign nationals and also discovered unlicensed firearms during the raids.
Gauteng Police spokesperson Mathapelo Peters told the SABC that they also seized large quantities of counterfeit clothing and footwear.
“We have found a large consignment of counterfeit goods, of which the value is yet to be determined.
“We also arrested undocumented foreign nationals.
“In one room on the 12th floor of the medical building, we found firearms that did not have licences. So, those are going to be taken in for ballistics, he said.
One of the eye witnesses from Newtown, Ms Nothando Ncube, said a lot of undocumented immigrants including Zimbabweans were taken in for questioning during the raid.
“It was chaotic and a number of immigrants were picked up while other policemen pounced on those who sell counterfeit clothing and foot wear.
“At one point we thought people were going to die because there was violence when illegal traders decided to push back,” said Ms Ncube.
The Africa Diaspora — an organisation representing immigrants — told online sources that the raids are a complete abuse of the rights of foreign nationals in the City of Johannesburg.
Mr Vusimusi Banda, from the Africa Diaspora, reacted to the violence that erupted in the same area which resulted in members of the public attacking police.
“We met the Johannesburg Station Commander.
“I think it was on June 10 and in our discussions, we agreed that if there is an operation, even if it happens in the morning, as the Africa Diaspora, they can tell us right in the morning.
“We can come here so that we can see that everything is done within the confines of the law, but that’s not what’s happening.
“There’s complete and blatant abuse of the rights of the people that are here because nobody thinks they are worth protecting,” said Mr Banda.