south africa xenophobic attacks
Locals gesture outside a hostel during anti-immigrant related violence in JohannesburgSiphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

A Zimbabwean female war veteran has blamed President Robert Mugabe for the xenophobic riots taking place in South Africa, in which at least six people lost their lives.

Anti-foreigner protests erupted in the city of Durban – and later moved to Johannesburg – with many South Africans attacking and looting businesses and shops owned by foreign nationals, who are being accused of stealing jobs and opportunities.

Thousands of Zimbabweans and other foreign locals have fled their homes and are living in makeshift camps, while Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique have announced plans to repatriate citizens.

Following days of violence, Zimbabwean former soldier and member of Parliament Margaret Dongo said that the Mugabe-led Zanu PF party's misrule was to blame for attacks against Zimbabweans in South Africa, who are estimated to number around three million.

In an interview with the Daily News, she said: "It is Zanu PF that is to blame for these xenophobic attacks on our own sons and daughters because they have driven people outside because of their poor policies.

"They are the ones who have caused hardships and the high unemployment rate, and they do not care about anyone because they are busy looting and building expensive mansions for themselves."

Dongo's comments follow the South African Department of Home Affairs' decision to crackdown on illegal South African passports holders who try to enter or leave Zimbabwe through the Beitbridge border post, which forms the political border between the two counties.

It is believed that recent violence in South Africa erupted following alleged comments by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini that foreigners need to "pack their bags and leave". Zwelithini denied making the statement.

More than 300 people believed to be linked to violence have been arrested, while South Africa's President Jacob Zuma cancelled a visit to Indonesia to address the situation.

Meanwhile, South Africans living in other countries are also fleeing as they fear reprisal attacks after angry crowds hurled stones at South Africans' vehicles in Mozambique and Nigeria.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has threatened to boycott the upcoming EU-Africa summit if his wife is denied a visa.
Zimbabwean President Robert MugabeReuters