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South Africa Police Operation Nets Criminals, Undocumented Zimbabweans

FILE: Zimbabweans pass a police cordon to submit their application forms outside the Immigration offices in Johannesburg, in a last minute bid to have their status in South Africa legalized (File Photo)

Police in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Monday launched a dawn operation aimed at flushing out armed criminals and in the process arrested dozens of illegal immigrants including Zimbabweans in the highly populated sections of Hillbrow and Berea.

The raids coincided with the day to commemorate the country’s 20th independence anniversary.

The operation comes on the heels of the xenophobic attacks that left seven people dead. According to the Johannesburg Metro Police’s website, four officers were killed in the height of the xenophobic attacks but they could not say if this was connected to the disturbances.

After his Freedom Day speech, President Jacob Zuma, said South Africa faces a serious problem of illegal immigrants and gave an example of Mozambican Emmanuel Sithole, whose killing caught on camera went viral.

Mr. Zuma said Sithole was an illegal immigrant who did not use his real name.

Reacting to the raids, Nqabutho Nicholas Dube of the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, said some Zimbabweans are now living in fear because of the raids.

Meanwhile, the South African Broadcasting Corporation reports that names of the foreign nationals killed in xenophobic violence in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng would be released as soon as there had been a conclusive positive identification of the victims, the presidency said on Monday.

President Zuma identified three South Africans who were killed the vi0lence as Ayanda Dlamini, 22, Thabo Mzobe, 14, and Msawenkosi Dlamini, 29.

The xenophobic attacks were allegedly sparked by Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini, who ordered all foreigners to leave the country. He has since dissociated himself from those remarks.

At least 7 people died in the attacks and thousands, including Zimbabweans, were displaced. Sixty-two people died in similar attacks in 2008.