June 4, 2008 / 5:49 PM / 10 years ago

S.Africa apologises for attacks on Mozambicans

By Charles Mangwiro

MAPUTO, June 4 (Reuters) - South Africa on Wednesday officially apologized to Mozambique for the deadly two-week anti-foreigner attacks which left 30 Mozambicans dead and drove 37,000 others back home.

"There is so much sorrow for what has happened. We offer our sincere apologies", South African High Commissioner to Mozambique, Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe said.

The South African High Commission in Mozambique donated an estimated $50,000 worth of food for the Mozambican victims of the xenophobic attacks, to be distributed by Mozambique government relief agency the National Disasters Management Institute (INGC).

The package consisted of 16 sacks of maize and 15 of rice, each weighing 50 kilograms.

Sixty-two people were killed and about 50,000 migrants, mainly Mozambicans, Malawians and Zimbabweans left South Africa after armed mobs went on a killing rampage in impoverished shantytowns around Johannesburg and other cities.

South Africa said on Wednesday it had charged 1,436 people with murder, arson, assault and other crimes in connection with the violence, the worst to occur in South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994.

"We won wars in favour of the unity of our peoples, and today we have opened the borders so that the peoples of the two countries can circulate freely, our enemies are not happy about this. They want to separate us," Lujabe-Rankoe said.

She said she was confident that the situation in South Africa had returned to normal and would allow the Mozambicans who fled across the border to return to South Africa. (Editing by Muchena Zigomo and Jon Boyle)

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