Some Zimbabweans living in South Africa have been leaving troubled parts of the country as threats of xenophobic attacks upon the conclusion of the World Cup of soccer proliferate, spreading fear.
South African media reported that Zimbabweans and other Africans are camping at truck stops in a bid to catch rides from the Western Cape and other hot spots to Johannesburg, eventually hoping to return to Zimbabwe.
Media reports quoted such foreigners as saying local South Africans warned them to pack their bags if they did not want trouble. Landlords were said to have refused to accept July rents, fearing for their premises.
Such accounts prompted Western Cape Premier Helen Zille to urge President Jacob Zuma to to issue a public call for tolerance. Reports said her concerns have been forwarded to an inter-ministerial committee on xenophobia.
Zille's spokeswoman, Tracy Venter, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Sandra Nyaira that the province is working with the United Nations, churches, police and non-governmental organizations to keep threats from leading to following the finals of the World Cup, during which officials have been particularly vigilant against all crime.
In a related development, Grace Machel, wife of former President Nelson Mandela, launched a civil society coalition to fight against xenophobia in the post-World Cup period.
Zimbabwe Exiles Forum Executive Director Gabriel Shumba, present at the launch of the initiative, said a nationwide march against xenophobia is planned among other activities to encourage tolerance.