Update: Sasol to evacuate employees over unrest in Mozambique

The protest action east of Ressano Garcia earlier this morning.

Friday April 17, 15:20

LEBOMBO BORDER POST – Sasol’s Mozambican employees have joined in the protests against South Africans, following the recent reported incidents of violence against foreign nationals in South Africa.

As a result the company announced today that it will be moving its South African employees from its operations in Mozambique.

According to Mr Alex Anderson, head of group communications at Sasol, employees of service providers working on Sasol projects in Mozambique have joined in the unrest.

“We have had no cases of violence at our sites and the situation remains calm. As a precautionary measure, Sasol and its service providers will facilitate the phased, temporary exit of approximately 340 South African nationals from our operations in Mozambique, back to South Africa. As a result projects site work has been halted for the time being.

Anderson says operations at their central processing facility in Temane and the gas-fired powerplant, CTRG in Ressano Garcia, are running as normal.

“Mozambican employees of our service providers have expressed concern around the reported incidents of violence against Mozambicans and other foreign nationals in South Africa and are also protesting about the presence of South African employees of our service providers working on the project.”

“We are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of all personnel and will continue to facilitate engagement with all parties involved and the relevant authorities to work towards an amicable solution. We continue to monitor the situation.”



Lebombo Border Post open, traffic moving after shots fired earlier – Friday April 17, 13:45

Rumours of shots that were fired at the Lebombo Border Post have been confirmed by a source on the Mozambican side of the post. The source who sells third party insurance says crowds gathered since yesterday as a retaliation against the xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa.

The crowds demanded that no South African entered the country and also didn’t want Mozambicans to enter South Africa. According to him things got heated this morning and about two hours ago several shots were fired when a vehicle tried to drive past the picketing crowds. He couldn’t confirm whether anyone was injured. He said that “it was tense” for a few hours but that things have returned to normal and traffic is slowly moving through the border again.

Information in the public domain is still confusing and no formal statements by either the police of any national department has been released on the situation.

Lowvelder will keep you posted via our two reporters at the border.

Lebombo Border Post closed, SA trucks attacked in Mozambique – Friday April 17, 12:00

All vehicles have been stopped from crossing the Ressano Garcia Border Post into Mozambique in interest of their own safety.

Trucks with South African registration plates have been stoned in Mozambique. A volatile crowd of about 200 Mozambicans has barricaded the N4 about four kilometres east of the Resano Garcia border post, where there is a truck stop.

They gathered at dawn and are presently still blocking the road. It is suspected that this action in related to the Xenophobic attacks which have erupted in various areas of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng this week.

Trac has placed a warning on the protest action on its website. Ms Solange Soares-Nicholson said that motorists travelling east on the N4 are being warned of the situation at the Moamba Toll Gate. She said a Trac patrol team has been sent to the scene to access the situation.

According to Const Laurence Ntuli of the Lebombo Border Post, they are allowing vehicles to go through. He said the all the South African vehicles are being turned back at Ressano Garcia and returning to South Africa through Lebombo.

Ms Mie Bergman, a Swedish national living in Maputo witnessed acts of violence against South African-registered trucks this morning. She was travelling from Maputo to Nelspruit and approached Ressano Garcia at 09:30 “There was a huge crowd of people with big sticks and stones. They were throwing rocks at SA-registered trucks,” she said. The crowd let us pass because we had a Mozambican-registered car.

According to Mr Stephen Nicholson, who attempted to cross the border from South Africa to Mozambique this morning, when he stopped at the border he was told by an official that he will not be allowed to cross because “they will kill you”. Nicholson said that South African-registered have been prevented from crossing and the border post is effectively closed.

He said the officials claimed that the violent protests across the border were in fact linked to the xenophobic violence in South Africa.

Despite the national outcry among locals and government, this isn’t the first time conflict between South Africans and their other African counterparts has flared up. See the timeline below documenting xenophobic attacks that have taken place from 2008.

Mark Kinnear

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