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In a curious way, South Africa profits from the turmoil in Poland.

Many Poles leaving the country since last August have chosen South Africa as their new destination. South Africa has been only too happy to oblige.

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''We need them,'' says a South African government official. The reason: A tremendous shortage of skilled labor. Some 500 Poles have already settled in South Africa, and several thousand more are expected. They often are welcomed with a fully furnished apartment, stocked with food. Many receive cash bonuses, ranging up to a few thousand dollars.

The government insists the Poles are not taking jobs away from blacks, who suffer high unemployment.

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