Mugabe: SA used to be "heaven on earth"

President Robert Mugabe criticised workers who seek new lives in Johannesburg and other SA cities.

FILE: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. Picture: AFP

PRETORIA - Xenophobic attacks dominated a Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Harare on Wednesday after President Jacob Zuma asked to brief his regional counterparts on the violence that claimed the lives of seven people in South Africa.

Host President Robert Mugabe also criticised workers who seek new lives in Johannesburg and other South African cities.

Zuma said he was given an opportunity to brief the summit and to explain the causes of the attacks, as well as the South African government's attempts to address the situation to prevent further loss of life.

The SADC meeting was meant to discuss industrial growth but the tensions focussed on the violence directed at citizens of countries whose presidents were at the gathering behind closed doors.

Mugabe told reporters afterwards that long ago, going to South Africa was like "heaven on Earth".

He said people must get back to their own countries; they should not have the instinct of rushing into South Africa.

The latest wave of xenophobic violence broke out in Durban late last month, before spreading to parts of Johannesburg. The attacks were halted after government decided to deploy the army to Alexandra and Jeppestown.

Among those killed were 14-year-old Thabo Mzobe and Mozambican national Emmanuel Josias.

Earlier this month, authorities said at least 307 people had been arrested for a range of crimes linked to the violence.

For a feature detailing how the xenophobic attacks affected ordinary South Africans and immigrants click here.