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Zimbabweans face hate in South Africa

Attacks on foreigners have killed 22 and left more than 6,000 homeless in the past few days.

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Stocking up: These men routinely cross into South Africa to buy food to resell in Zimbabwe where the economy has collapsed.

Melanie Stetson Freeman – staff

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You know it's bad when you have to go to another country to buy bread.

That's just what Bellarms and his brothers do every day, buying enough loaves of bread in the South African town of Musina to fill the back of his pickup truck and take it back across the border to his native Zimbabwe to sell for 200 million Zimbabwe dollars (roughly $1 US) a loaf.

"Eish, it's bad there," says Bellarms, who declines to give his full name because of possible reprisal from Zimbabwe police. "We come every day except Saturday, buying boxes of soap, cooking oil, the same commodities that you just can't find in Zimbabwe anymore. We just wait for God now. He knows that we face trouble here."

In a country where many farmers have stopped farming, where a chicken can cost a quarter of a teacher's monthly salary and bread half that – if you can even find it – hunger is a looming crisis that is sending increasing numbers of Zimbabweans out of the country for their mere survival.

The rising number of Zimbabweans in South Africa – estimated to be nearly 3 million – has created growing anxiety among the working-class South Africans who compete with them for jobs. This anxiety has recently turned to anger, as a wave of antiforeigner attacks in Johannesburg townships such as Alexandra and Diepsloot, and even downtown Johannesburg itself have killed 22 in the past few days, and left 217 others injured and nearly 6,000 homeless.

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