Batswana flock to SA despite xenophobic attack fears

Busy busy: Officials say traffic is still heavy at Tlokweng Boarder Post
Busy busy: Officials say traffic is still heavy at Tlokweng Boarder Post

Thousands of Batswana continue to cross the border to the neighbouring South Africa despite the on going xenophobic attacks that have claimed six lives so far.

An immigration officer at Tlokweng border gate, Kedumetse Lepang stated that they have registered a consistent number of Batswana who are crossing over to South Africa.

“Since last week Wednesday 15 till April 20, 2015 we have registered grand total of 8 841 people. Out of the 8 841 people, there were 4 518 arrivals and 4323 departures,” he explained.

Lepang also said that people who use the border give various reasons of why they are crossing over the border, even though they are aware of the situation in South Africa. “People can be stubborn, more especially when they are determined to do what they intend to do, you cannot stop them,” he said.

Lepang said that as immigration officers, they have observed that travelers do not get intimidated easily.“Not so long ago people were warned not to go or visit Ebola affected countries as they could be at risk of contracting the virus, however we registered a large number people who were visiting such countries.

Some were putting their lives at risk to travel to The Synagogue Church of All Nations in Nigeria, ” he said. Lepang, however, noted that about 70 Batswana have suspended their trips to the neighbouring country in fear of violence. 

About eight Malawian nationals recently passed through the Tlokweng border gate to return to their home country to avoid the violence in South Africa.

Princess Marina hospital has also suspended patients’ referrals to South Africa for medical attention until the situation calms.

Meanwhile, the xenophobic attacks reached another level when the 35-year-old Emmanuel Sithole from Mozambique was stabbed to death in public.

Four suspects have been arrested in connection with Sithole’s death and they are said to have been charged and with murder and robbery.  The Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini who some blamed for fueling the attacks, held a peace making ceremony on Monday at the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban, in an attempt to address what he claims are ‘distorted words by the media’ and to encourage his fellow countrymen to stop the attacks.

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