ANC Daily News Briefing/Sapa, 20 July 2008

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Zambian victims of recent xenophobic acts in South Africa should should return home to begin a new life, Information Minister Mike Mulongoti said in Lusaka Sunday. "Many opportunities exist in Zambia for the victims. The government would do everything possible to assist the xenophobic victims to settle," he said. But those victims who felt safe in South Africa would not be compelled to return, he said. More than 120 Zambians have returned home from South Africa telling chilling stories of the wave of violence directed against foreigners. Mulongoti denied the violence meted out was state sponsored or South African government policy but was perpetrated by criminal elements. Around 60 people were killed, hundreds injured and tens of thousands of migrants displaced by deadly attacks against foreigners in South Africa, which began in Alexandra township north-east of Johannesburg on May 11 and later spread to slums across the country. Zambian immigration officials meanwhile turned back around 17 Zimbabwean women who illegally crossed into Zambia on Lake Kariba last Friday. Post-election violence in Zimbabwe, purportedly perpetrated by militias supporting the ruling party, has sent columns of Zimbabweans fleeing into Zambia, posing security concerns. Lusaka streets are now flooded with Zimbabweans eking out a living by selling all sorts of merchandise and sending back home to relatives, whatever foreign currency they earn in Zambia. The local Zambian currency is ostensibly treated as the legal tender in Zimbabwe's border areas.