Zimbabwean vendors evicted in Soweto as Operation Dudula continues

EVICTIONS of Zimbabweans from their rented homes and vending stalls continues in parts of Johannesburg and Lephalale in Limpopo province, the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria has called for calm and vigilance.

This week, many startled residents from Diepkloof in Soweto woke up to the scenes of a mop-up operation aimed at removing illegal foreign nationals and South Africans who sell goods without permits while occupying stands at the Bara taxi rank.

The removal of illegal foreigners or those without permits from townships and surrounding suburbs is part of a clean-up campaign called Operation Dudula,

Social media has been awash with videos and photos of South Africans evicting Zimbabwean nationals from various vending stalls and also threatening them with unspecified action if they do not leave the country.

Operation Dudula was formed by the Soweto community and military veterans in an effort to reclaim what they say belongs to them as South Africans, saying that they are gatvol with illegal immigrants in South Africa.

Some of the hawkers still operating outside the Bara taxi rank in the aftermath of residents’ actions in a bid to weed out illegal traders. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso

They also alleged that they are part of the reasons why there is a high unemployment rate, increased crime and drug abuse and dealing among youth in Mzansi.

The movement made its first appearance last year on June 16 in what many described as the 2021 version of the Soweto Uprising. This saw residents from all over Soweto taking a stand against crime, illegal immigrants, and foreign businesses in the form of a march in the streets of Diepkloof.

According to the City of Joburg, if you are a hawker selling food and meals and you move from place to place or sell from a vehicle, you need a licence.

Licenses to trade plus a once-off application fee needs to be paid to Joburg City’s trade licence department for a person to qualify to operate a stall at the taxi ranks.

An emotional Tiny Moyo, who was one of the Zimbabwean nationals being chased away, was seen packing up her goods on Wednesday.

“This all started on Monday… It’s been a tough week for us. I don’t know what to do. Things are bad at home. This is my livelihood. Why do they have to treat us like us? This is painful. I don’t know what to do or where to go from here,” she said.

Since Monday, the operation which was conducted at the Bara Taxi Ran saw 42 foreigners largely Zimbabweans arrested for not having documentation.

“About 20 cars were searched and proper licencing of cars checked by JMPD and SAPS. 42 undocumented persons were arrested, they were all not in possession of legal documents to be in South Africa,” a SAPS statement says.

“Home affairs officials were verifying those who are asylum-seekers in the Country. This will be an on-going operation of multidisciplinary forces for the prevention of crime in the area of Diepkloof.”

In an Advisory Note, the Embassy of Zimbabwe in South Africa said they were aware of the anxiety in the neighbouring country that was being caused by the non-renewal of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permits and their termination on 31 December 2022.

“The embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe in the Republic of South Africa and its Consulates in Cape Town and Johannesburg have received reports of disturbing events that recently took place and affected Zimbabwe nationals in parts of Johannesburg and Lephalale in Limpopo province.

“The embassy and consulates urge all Zimbabwe nationals in the Republic of Zimbabwe to be vigilant and to be law abiding. Holders of the Zimbabwe Exemption Permit who choose to remain in the country after 31 December 2022 must start the process of migrating to other visas early,” reads the note.

The embassy further revealed that they were in constant contact with relevant South African government representatives on matters concerning the safety of Zimbabweans in the neighbouring country.

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Soweto Urban News, IOL

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