Hundreds of Zimbabweans residing in South Africa are embarking on a 950km walk from Cape Town to neighbouring Namibia, fleeing xenophobic attacks in the former apartheid enclave.
Zimbabwean migrants are reported to be among more than 200 refugees who have started a long walk from the port city of Cape Town into Namibia.
The distance between Cape Town and Namibia’s Ariamsvlei border is estimated at 950km.
The refugees, according to media reports from the two SADC countries, are fleeing violent attacks that rocked South Africa August this year, leaving scores of people including two Zimbabweans, dead.
On Friday, the group that includes parents and school-going children embarked on the journey on foot from Cape Town to the Namibian border.
The refugees were staying at the Central Methodist Church in Cape Town.
Commissioner for Refugees in Namibia, Likius Valombola, confirmed the move.
“Yes, we are aware of this move. So far since August, we have received over 200 refugees from South Africa.”
“We are on it and soon we will be meeting our counterpart to better understand the situation here,” he said. He added that most of the refugees fleeing South Africa were from Zimbabwe, the DRC and Tanzania.
Reverend Alan Storey, from the Central Methodist Church in Cape Town, had since August, pleaded with the refugees that they leave the church and find a more suitable place of safety, which the affected migrants now believe lies beyond the borders of South Africa.
The Namibian consul-general in South Africa, Nicklaas Kandiji, said he would contact Namibia’s foreign affairs ministry and discuss the issue and way forward.
The community leader of the refugees, Jean-Pierre Balous said it would take them a month to complete the journey from Cape Town to the Namibian Ariamsvlei border.
“We are going to walk. If it is going to take a month of us walking, so let it be,” he said.
However, it could not be ascertained why the refugees had decided to walk to Namibia instead of taking buses or any other transport for such a long distance.
Millions of Zimbabweans have fled their country over the past 20 years due to serious economic and political challenges in their country.
Most of them are now based in neighbouring South Africa.