Coal mine Tete
A coal mine in Tete, Mozambique, where hundreds of South Africans have fled in fear of reprisal attacks Getty

Hundreds of South Africans working in Mozambique have fled the country in fear of reprisal attacks after days of anti-immigrant violence in South Africa left five dead.

Staff from South African companies Sasol Petroleum, which manages a natural gas concession in Inhambane province, Mozambique, Kentz, which mines coal in Tete, and Moma Mining in Nampula, have left the country, reports South Africa's Independent Online news, citing local media.

"Information reaching us from Inhambane indicate that since [16 April], South Africans workers [at Sasol] are packing their bags to go home," said Mateus Zimba, Sasol's resident director in Mozambique.

Work at the Sasol Petroleum plant was suspended when about 200 South African workers left, reports Folha de Maputo.

In a visit to the Inhambane plant on 16 April, regional governor Agostinho Trinta urged Mozambiquan workers not to engage in revenge attacks for the violence in South Africa.

"Our reason does not allow us respond violently to xenophobic acts that are taking place in South Africa. We can not answer evil with evil," he said.

Folha de Maputo reports that special flights had been chartered from Tete, to transport South African workers back to their home country, amid fears that the mining operation could be paralysed as a result of the exodus of foreign workers.

There are no reports yet of violent attacks on South Africans in Mozambique having taken place.

In South Africa, violence has spread from Durban to Johannesburg, where police clashed with anti-immigrant gangs which looted shops and torched cars.

Malawi has announced it is to repatriate its citizens in the wake of the attacks, with the immigrants targeted mainly Africans from countries including Mozambique, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.

Clashes were recorded at a peace march in Durban yesterday, where anti-immigrant violence flared last week.