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Foundation gives R2m aid to xenophobia victims

Gift of the Givers is housing displaced foreigners at a camp in Mayfair.

A Malawian refugee sits and listens to music after dinner at a sanctuary in Mayfair. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Gift of the Givers Foundation says it's spent over R2 million at a camp in Mayfair, housing foreign nationals and women and children arrested in raids across Johannesburg through Operation Fiela.

Dozens of families, mainly from Zimbabwe and Malawi, have been sleeping in a Mayfair church and tents are set up outside the facility.

The relief group has also been managing the repatriation of foreign nationals from the camp, and has provided food parcels for 3,500 travelling to Malawi.

Gift of the Givers co-ordinator Emily Thomas says, "We're working in conjunction with the Malawi embassy, and all the other embassies. Whenever there are busses leaving, to go back to their home countries, Gift of the Givers will deliver food parcels. We've spent about R2.3 million on this project providing food, shelter and medical attention."

MALAWIANS FLEE XENOPHOBIA

A bus carrying 60 Malawians fleeing xenophobia in South Africa is en route back to the South-East African nation on a three-day trip, and among the passengers on board are women and children arrested in last week's raid in the Johannesburg CBD.

Operation Fiela has resulted in hundreds of illegal immigrants being arrested and sent to the Lindela Deportation Centre in Krugersdorp, while mothers and children were sent to the Gift of the Givers camp in Mayfair.

Some of them have decided to return to Malawi.

WATCH: Operation Fiela sends Malawians packing

Busses loaded with food, water and other essential supplies are being packed every day as officials from the Malawian embassy ensure everything is in order to transport their citizens home.

Patricia Jafali, aged 29, was arrested in the city centre with her husband, who she says is still behind bars.

"They arrested us because we don't have papers. They beat another guy from Zimbabwe. I was scared."

Jafali says she hasn't told her husband that she's leaving South Africa with their two children.

"I don't know whether he's at John Vorster [prison] or Lindela. I don't know because the phone is off."

Among the people staying in the camp are 30 women and children from the Central Methodist Church.

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