South Africa deports more than 5,600 immigrants following xenophobia attacks, minister says

CAPE TOWN: South Africa has repatriated a total number of 5, 645 foreigners since the end of xenophobia attacks in late April, the government said on Sunday.

These foreigners chose to leave South Africa voluntarily, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said.

Malawians made up the bulk of these repatriated foreigners, numbering 3,506, to be followed by Mozambicans (682), Zimbabweans (1,440) and Tanzanians (17), the minister said in a statement.

Meanwhile, South Africa has also deported 418 to Mozambicans, he said.

The repatriation process started soon after the latest spate of xenophobia violence was brought to an end late last month, but not before seven people were killed and thousands of foreigners displaced.

The Department of Social Development continues to work closely with other relevant departments, as well as civil society organizations to provide support to displaced foreign nationals, Radebe said.

Over 1,000 foreigners received trauma counselling, 10 women with children under 12 months of which three had just given birth were flown to their respective countries on their insistence, said Radebe, who leads the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Migration.

He said the IMC continues to do its work to ensure that the underlying socioeconomic issues that give rise to tensions between South Africans and foreign nationals are being dealt with.

Radebe also defended the current Operation Fiela (meaning "sweep" in Sesotho language) launched after the end of the xenophobia attacks.

The operation, he said, is addressing security challenges in a structured and coordinated manner.