The plight of asylum-seeekers in South Africa

EDITOR - Last week, I went to South African Home Affairs in Crown Mine Jozi.

I could not believe what I saw there. According to the Home Affairs schedule, Thursday and Friday are days reserved for all the southern African people who are seeking asylum in South Africa.

There were very few people from Malawi and Zambia and over 700 Zimbabweans, some of whom had slept there since Monday waiting to be served on Thursday. The Home Affairs can only serve 600 Zimbabweans on these two allocated days.

Most of the people who ha dslept there since Monday went back home empty-handed. There are people who prefer to go there Thursday morning and pay R500 or more to Nigerians and Zimbabweans who claim to be interpreters. Not all of these so-called interpreters are genuine. I saw five guys who paid R2,500 to a guy who disappeared with the money. The Home Affairs gives first preference to the disabled and blind who were given about two years to stay in South Africa.

Whilst I was there, I saw one Zimbabwean guy with a South African daily newspaper, The Citizen. The front page had the picture of Morgan Tsvangirai and the caption was deal signed’. We started discussing the deal.

I asked some who were there whether they would feel free to go back home. Some said they would be happy to go back once the deal was successful, but many were not comfortable about going back. Whilst they used to blame Mugabe for chasing them away, now they were blaming Tsvangirai for being sweet-talked by Mugabe and his colleagues.

These were people who have been here for more than five years. But whilst they were here, they failed to do anything productive back home. Others were busy enjoying themselves whilst others just found the going tough; they realised that the grass is only greener on the other side till you get there.

However there comes a time when every man has to face the truth, and the time has come for Zimbabweans living in SA. How many will feel comfortable to go back empty-handed. Whilst they were busy enjoying themselves in Jozi, their colleagues back home were busy moving on with their lives. Only time will tell.

Now the Home Affairs is saying, many of you said you were running away from political strife now the deal has been signed you must go back.

However, as Zimbabweans we must be grateful to South Africans for the help they have offered us since our problems started. I know there were problems such as the recent xenophobic attacks that led to some Zimbabweans losing their lives and property but, nonetheless, we must thank them.

Let’s hope the deal will mark a new dawn for Zimbabwe so that all who are ready and want to back home will feel free to do so.


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