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#ZimbabweanLivesMatter even in South AfricaBy Uyapo Majahana - @uyapomajax (Twitter) and Lorraine Zireva - @lorrainezireva (Twitter)
03 August 2020
Twitter is ablaze with the #ZimbabweanLivesMatter. Could this have the same impact as it did the #Black livesMatter?
The Zimbabwean struggle for freedom crosses over the border into South Africa where migrants also face human rights abuses.
Police brutally attack Immigrants in Johannesburg
Just before the end of last month, eight Zimbabwean immigrants from Bertrams in Johannesburg were beaten by about ten uniformed patrol officers when they were found praying in a nearby forest.
The incident happened at around 11am. The officers found them undocumented and accused them of being criminals.
They were told to lie on the ground face down with both hands on their head while being flogged and were told not to look up. Their personal belongings were set alight without questioning.
Nqobile Mhlanga (36) recalls the ordeal and describes the experience as horrific.
“We were in the forest praying as usual in the morning when the unthinkable happened; more than six men came to us and demanded documents. None of us had them with us and that is when we were told to lie on the floor with our heads facing the ground. They did not ask us anything and started beating us. Our bags with money and other personal belongings were burnt,” he said.
Another member of the group, Sindiso Zondo (32) who told us that he is currently dealing with trauma, said that they fired gunshots while other officers screamed that they should be burnt down.
“They fired gunshots commanding that we sleep on the floor, they flogged us more than 10 times. I have blisters, both my thighs, thumbs and my buttocks are swollen, I am in pain and still traumatised by the whole incident,” he said.
Mateu Sithole (30) says the officers accused him of coming into the country to rob people.
“We laid on the floor facing down and hands on our heads, one of the officers said that I came into the country to rob them. I was beat more than 30 times by different people and they burnt my back. They also burnt the R2500 that was in the bag which I wanted to pay rent with,” he said.
There is no specific legislation that protects foreigners against xenophobia in South Africa; however they have to rely on section 9 of constitution which says that everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
Human Rights activist, Annie Michaels says that such incidents have been happening all along and little has been done about it because the immigrants fear for their lives and remain in silence.
“I call it structural xenophobic attack on immigrants, this has been happening for a long time and it is usually swept under the carpet as South African nationals always get away with it. Such cases do not get enough publicity because it usually happens in the outskirts, and it is easy to get away with. Immigrants are often scared to report these issues because they fear for their lives.
Efforts to gets help from the police at Jeppe police station were shuttered as they refused to assist them. They were also told to wait before getting help at the hospital.
Key South African figures like Dj Tira, AKA and Mmusi Maimane, Khanyi Magubane, and they are publicly endorsing the #ZimbabweLivesMatter online movement on Twitter.
In Zimbabwe the, movement has been embraced by Zimbabweans, from citizens, to activists, to political opposition members.