MAPUTO, April 21 – Irish mining company Kenmare Resources says it has temporarily repatriated South African workers from its dredge mine in Moma district on the coast of the northern Mozambican province of Nampula.
The company said in a statement Monday that it had taken the step as a precautionary measure “due to unrest regarding foreign workers in South Africa, which has recently created reciprocal unrest concerning South Africans working in Mozambique”.
The company employs 1,391 people, INCLUDING 62 South Africans at its Moma operations.
Tensions have arisen in reaction to horrific xenophobic attacks which have taken place in Durban, Johannesburg and elsewhere in South Africa, instigated by anti-foreigner remarks by the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini.
In these attacks, people from many countries, including Mozambicans, Zimbabweans and Congolese, have been targeted, resulting in seven murders and more than 5,000 people being displaced.
South African workers in Tete and Inhambane provinces have also been evacuated, after their angry Mozambican colleagues demanded that they leave.
Attacks on South African buses and trucks near the Ressano Garcia border post on Friday effectively closed the border for several hours, but the flow of traffic had returned to normal by Friday evening.
The Mozambican authorities have urged that there should be no retaliation for the attacks against foreigners in South Africa. “We cannot repeat the bad actions of the South Africans here in our country”, said Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario on Saturday.
“If we retaliate, we will be generating more violence here, which will also be repeated in South Africa, and so the violence will never end.”
Meanwhile there are now signs that the South African authorities are cracking down on the violence. The police say they have made over 300 arrests. These included three people arrested for the horrific murder of Mozambican national, Emmanuel Sithole, in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg, on Saturday morning.
This murder was committed in full view of journalists. James Oatway, a photographer with the Sunday Times newspaper, photographed the attack. He then tried to save Sithole’s life, driving him to hospital, but he died a few hours later.
Oatway’s pictures were probably crucial evidence. The police confirmed that the man shown stabbing Sithole is among those arrested. The police are still looking for a fourth suspect, and have offered a reward of 100,000 Rands (about 8,260 US dollars) for anyone with further information on the murder.