KZN foreigners demand repatriation from Zuma

More than 1,000 foreigners told Jacob Zuma that they want to go back to their countries of origin soon.

President Jacob Zuma addresses foreign nationals in Durban after he cancelled his visit to Indonesia in order to attend to the matter on 18 April 2015. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

DURBAN - More than 1,000 foreigners have told President Jacob Zuma that they want to go back to their countries of origin as soon as possible and have shouted it's too late as he addressed them in Durban.

The president cancelled his visit to Indonesia in order to attend to the attacks on foreign nationals.

Zuma was due to travel to Indonesia tonight for a state visit and to attend the Africa-Asia summit.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will replace the president in Indonesia.

Zuma visited the Chatsworth displacement camp where people from Malawi, Somalia, Zimbabwe and Burundi have been staying since violent xenophobic attacks forced them to flee from their homes in the city.

The president was joined by several ministers and inspected the living conditions in the camps before making a short address.

The president told foreigners that he hears their message loud and clear.

"Those of you who want to go home, we will arrange for you to go home."

But he emphasised that the government does not want them to leave and will ensure safety for those who want to stay.

"As government we are not saying going away and we will stop the violence."

While many of the people cheered as Zuma said the government would help them get home, they continued protesting after he left.

WATCH: Foreigners say they want to go home.


Government officials at the Phoenix Displacement Camp for victims of xenophobia in Durban say close to 98 percent of the people there don't have identity documents or passports.

The number of people in the camps is fluctuating as some choose to go back to their countries and others return to their communities.

The camp in Phoenix has now become the largest, with around 2,400 displaced people.

In the camp there are three marquee tents filled with food, sanitary supplies, mattresses and blankets but most of the people are still sleeping outside.

Sipho Mthethwa from the Durban Mayor's office says almost all of the people arrived in the country without passports or IDs.

He says many of them have chosen to go back home and has stressed that no-one is being deported.

There are 2,400 people and most of them are foreigners who lived in Durban's northern areas.

LISTEN: David Mahlobo on xenophobia.