'No cause for alarm'

Namibian govt says SA is safe, despite chilling warning to foreigners

05 April 2019 | Africa

International relations executive director Selma Ashipala-Musavyi says it is safe to travel to South Africa, as calm has since returned to Durban, following a wave of xenophobic attacks against Africans.

The ministry also said it has received no report of any Namibian having been attacked in KwaZulu-Natal during the latest spate of attacks.

According to Ashipala-Musavyi the situation in the affected area has since calmed down and there is no cause for alarm.

She says it is safe for any Namibian to travel to South Africa.

“The ministry, through the Namibian High Commission in Pretoria, will continue to monitor the situation and inform the public accordingly.”

However, according to a message circulating on social media, foreigners residing in South Africa, legally or illegally, must leave the country before 13 May.

Attacks against immigrants were reported in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal last week when protests targeting foreign-owned shops turned violent.

At least two people were killed. Some 300 Malawians were displaced from their homes and dozens have asked to be repatriated.

Low-level xenophobic violence is a continuous reality in South Africa, peaking in 2008 with a spate of attacks that left at least 67 people dead.

The author of the latest message imploring foreigners to leave the country says the South African government has been ignoring their demands to get rid of foreigners.

The message warns that come 13 May, roads will be closed, all taxis will be stopped and all foreign nationals will be “dealt with mercilessly”.

The message reads: “What happened in KZN are just highlights of what we are going to do on the 13th of May. We are kind enough to give you more than a month time to pack yours and go to your own countries peacefully. We will stop all cars, taxis, busses, trains, we are going to enter work places, contract sites, security sites, searching everyone. Anyone found without a South African ID will be dealt with mercilessly (sic).”

The message says further foreigners should save themselves and their families in time, as they have been warned.

“We don't want any kwereweres anymore. We are tired. Enough is enough. Be warned.”

The author of the message asked people to share it, “as many will die”.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has issued a call for all South Africans to cease xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans.

Threat to regional tourism

Namibia's tourism ministry has described the recent spate of xenophobic attacks in South Africa as a threat to the SADC region's economic development, particularly the lucrative tourism sector.

The spokesperson for the tourism ministry, Romeo Muyunda, told Namibian Sun that the xenophobic attacks and threats in South Africa were unfortunate and undermined the political stability of the entire SADC region.

Muyunda said tourism indexes were to a large extent affected by political instability, particularly now that SADC was moving towards regional tourism marketing.

“This will affect such efforts and our arrivals,” he said.

Most of Namibia's tourists came from, or through, South Africa, Muyunda pointed out.

Given such threats and attacks on foreigners, tourists may not wish to travel to the SADC region and, consequently, to Namibia.

“We are observing the situation in SA as it unfolds, hoping that the authorities will address it amicably as we do not wish to have lives lost as a result,” said Muyunda.