The outbreak of cholera in South Africa cannot be blamed on the Zimbabwe epidemic, said the national department of health on Wednesday.
Spokesman Fidel Radebe said there were areas in South Africa that had a history of the disease long before the outbreak in Zimbabwe.
South Africa had recorded a death toll of 15 with about 2 000 people affected by the disease since November last year.
Radebe was responding to comments in the media by some health officials that the disease was brought to South Africa by Zimbabweans.
He said it was inciting violence to blame Zimbabweans for the outbreak in South Africa when the country had a history of cholera in areas where lack of proper sanitation and supply of clean water was a problem.
"Cholera is a water-borne disease and it has a tendency to recur in these areas," he said.
"In Limpopo for instance, most of the areas affected are those with a history of the outbreak long before the problem began in Zimbabwe," he said.
"Yes there is that dynamic [whereby some Zimbabweans came into the country and started getting ill], but this is not a new issue in South Africa," he said.
The cholera outbreak was sparked in Zimbabwe by the collapse of its water infrastructure and health services.
More than 2 100 lives had been lost in that country due to cholera since August 2008, according to the World Health Organization.
(Sapa, January 2009)