About 150 people protesting outside the Zimbabwean Consulate in Cape Town were told to disperse by the police on Friday.
When they refused, the police went to their cars to fetch their equipment, GroundUp reported.
They had been protesting the multiple accusations of violations of human rights and destruction of the economy by the ruling party, Zanu-PF.
People chanted: “Viva new generation!”, “Down with the government” and “Looters must go”.
Placards read: “Corruption is worse than sanctions”, “Soldiers belong to the barracks”, “No to corruption, looting, nepotism”.
There was also a poster saying “Justice for Hopewell”, referring to journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who was arrested on 20 July and charged with inciting violence.
The protest, organised by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance, was to show Zimbabwean emigrants’ solidarity with the nationwide protests against corruption and poverty planned for Friday in Zimbabwe, where draconian laws and excessive force are often used against protesters.
They also demanded an end to abductions and unlawful arrests as well as unlawful constitutional amendments and nepotism.
The gates of the consulate were closed and security refused to allow protesters to hand over a memorandum. It was a few minutes after police met consulate officials that the demonstrators were dispersed.
MDC Alliance Western Cape information secretary Don Madziva, who has been living in South Africa since 2007, said Zimbabweans “live in constant fear” in South Africa because of xenophobia. However, he is a political refugee and will not return to Zimbabwe as he fears for his life if he goes back.
Protester Tichaona Dhliwayo said: “We no longer need President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa because he doesn’t want to admit that he has failed to rule the country. Our families are dying in hospitals with no nurses, doctors, medication and equipment. He is using state security for his own political benefit.”
William Mapfumo said: “They [Zanu-PF] have ruined the economy, education, health system – nothing is functional. They have destroyed the future and dreams for the young generation. We don’t have anything to look forward to.
“Zimbabwe is just across the Limpopo River. There shouldn’t be much difference with South Africa, but the moment you cross the border you notice a huge gap.
“The situation is pathetic and depressing. On the South African side of the border, there is food in shops and roads are well maintained. By the Zimbabwean side, shops are empty; there is shortage of cash and fuel,” he added.