Eighteen of the more than 400 Zimbabweans repatriated on Monday after xenophobic attacks in South Africa were severely traumatised, while 97 had mental health problems and urgently needed special counselling from Government specialists and other non-governmental organisations who set up a clinic at the International Organisation of Migration offices in Beitbridge.
Deputy director Mental Health in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Mrs Dorcas Sithole said the 18 people needed special counselling because they were traumatised by the events they experienced in Durban.
“We had to counsel the victims because they experienced horrible things which may cause them to have post-traumatic stress, which may lead them to behave in a strange manner. They may end up taking drugs to escape the harsh realities they faced,” she said.
“Of the 456 (received), 97 had mental health problems while 18 needed special counselling,” she said.
Some of the people who underwent counselling said the events they saw in Durban will haunt them forever.
Mr Rodiny Magada (24) of Zaka said on the fateful day, he was sleeping when he heard a loud noise followed by a knock on his door.
“I hid under the bed and a group of Zulu-speaking South Africans forced their way into my house and one of them picked up a half bottle of beer which I had drank earlier and started drinking the alcohol. They started to ransack my house and they took the fridge outside.
“They searched under the mattress and took some money and took the mattress outside. They then lifted the base and found me hiding and they started attacking me with various objects including iron bars, machetes and wooden sticks,” he said.
He said one of the aggressors was wielding a gun and they took everything he had in the house.
Mr Magada said he managed to escape when one of the group members restrained the gang from further assaulting him, but he suffered multiple injuries.
Mr Emmanuel Vengemundai (38) of Chivi said: “I heard some noise and when I opened the door, I was knocked on the head. I could not tell what hit me, but I realised my attackers were heavily armed with claw hammers, knobkerries, iron bars and logs.
“They assaulted me with various objects and left me for dead.”
He said he struggled to walk and after 2km he met some South African Police officers and narrated his ordeal.
Mr Vengemundai who had stayed in South Africa since 2000 said the police seemed afraid to confront the gang, but they took him to a nearby hospital where he had nine stitches sewn on his head and seven on his hands.
Fanuel Musenyurwa (29) said he encountered his attackers when he was about to open the door of his house while coming from work.
“The group of about 30 people armed with various weapons attacked me, but I managed to escape. I ran away but they took all my property which I bought using money I got from plumbing and tiling.”
Mrs Keresi Kurundai (44) said:
“We heard the group was reaching our homestead then we fled. While at the shopping centre, we found a group of Zulu men destroying a shop belonging to an Ethiopian while police were watching.
All the victims interviewed said they were sold off by their neighbours.