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Suspected Xenophobic Attack in South Africa Hospitalizes Six Zimbabweans

  • Chris Gande

South African media reports said the attacks were sparked by the killing of a South African national, following which residents of Westenburg went on a rampage assaulting Zimbabweans and leaving the six for dead

Six Zimbabweans were said to be in critical condition at a hospital in a suburb of Polokwane, a city in the northern part of South Africa near the border with Zimbabwe, after being attacked by local residents on Monday night.

South African media reports said the attacks were sparked by the killing of a South African national, following which residents of Westenburg went on a rampage assaulting Zimbabweans and leaving the six for dead.

Director Joyce Dube of the Southern African Women for Migration Affairs told VOA Studio 7 reporter Chris Gande that Zimbabweans now fear that after the World Cup of Soccer next year such xenophobic attacks will increase.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch says the South African health care system discriminates against migrants, including the Zimbabwean economic immigrants and political refugees estimated to number anywhere from 1 to 3 million

The watchdog organization said in a report entitled "No Healing Here" that undocumented Zimbabweans are especially vulnerable to health risks, as they are denied access to hospitals and as a result may not seek help.

The rights group says immigrants are subject to xenophobic abuse from health care staff or are given inadequate treatment due to their marginal status.

Human Rights Watch Researcher Rebecca Shaeffer told VOA Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere that Zimbabweans are at risk of being physically attacked or raped, which without immediate intervention heightens HIV infection risk.

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