Mbalula’s ‘Zim soldiers’ remarks spark diplomatic row

Mbalula’s ‘Zim soldiers’ remarks spark diplomatic row

Mbalula said Zimbabweans ‘enter the country illegally and just come here not to promote goodwill’.

Zimbabwean Ambassador in South Africa, Isaac Moyo, on Wednesday visited the department of international relations to register “unhappiness” over Police Minister Fikile Mbalula’s remarks to the effect that members of the Zimbabwe National Army, fleeing from the military service in their country, are engaging in violent crimes across South Africa.

Spokesperson for the department of international relations, Clayson Monyela confirmed to African News Agency (ANA) that Moyo had indeed been at the department in charge of South Africa’s foreign policy, headquartered at the OR Tambo building in Pretoria.

“We can confirm that the ambassador of Zimbabwe did come to the department today. He came to register their unhappiness with the statements of Minister Mbalula,” said Monyela.

He however said he had no information regarding claims that Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has reportedly summoned South Africa’s ambassador Mphakama Mbete to clarify Mbalula’s remarks.

Monyela promised that he would check the veracity of those claims.

On Tuesday, the new South African Police Minister, Mbalula told a media briefing in Pretoria that Zimbabwean ex-soldiers were wrecking havoc in the neighbouring country, committing violent crime including robberies.

“There are people who come here from Zimbabwe, and they cross the line here. They run away from the military in Zimbabwe and they come here and promote criminality here in South Africa. There are Zimbabwean ex-soldiers who are in this country, robbing banks and promoting criminality. They are running away from uncle Bob [Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe] there,” said Mbalula.

“In Zimbabwe once you are a soldier, you are a soldier for life. You can’t get out of it. So to get out of it they run to South Africa, then they come here and rob banks. They are on the payroll of criminals, and we can’t trace them. If a South African steals, it’s easy to trace them because I will find you somewhere in the forensics because I have your fingerprints. I’ve got you all covered, South Africans.”

Mbalula said the Zimbabweans “enter the country illegally and they just come here not to promote goodwill”.

The minister however said his remarks were not xenophobic.

“Zimbabweans are working for us in this country. Very good Zimbabweans. They are working in our kitchens, they are everything, highly educated people. If there is anything that President Mugabe did was to educate his people. The people working in your kitchens are doctors. They are more educated than you. They are from Zimbabwe,” said Mbalula.

“Then there is a group of these criminals who come from the army. They come into this country – they rob, they terrorise, and they kill. That’s what they do. So we arrest them. We have got them.”

Mbalula urged members of the South African Police Service to toughen their stance against criminals in the country.

“We will meet fire with fire. Within the prescripts of the law, we will shoot to defend the innocent. We will shoot to defend ourselves, the force and members of the SAPS to ensure that there is law and order in this country. Criminals will not reign,” he said.

“The TRT [the SAPS’s elite Tactical Response Unit] will remain and execute it’s job. They must be positioned to respond to dangerous criminals. I’m not saying use force recklessly. I’m against that. I’m against rogueness, the use of force recklessly and the use of force against unarmed civilians.”

– African News Agency

Zimbabwean soldiers are causing crime havoc in SA – Mbalula

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