The plight of Zimbabwean refugees in SA

The audio is in Zulu. See english summary below.

MABUTHO: Isimo sezomnotho esingesihle kwelaseZimbabwe kuleminyaka embalwa edlulile siholele ekukhuleni kwesibalo sababaleki bakuleliyalizwe ababalekela kuleli laseNingizimu Africa. Okhulumela inhlangano iZimbabwe Action Group emele ababaleki baseZimbabwe abakuleli, uGilbert Moyo uthi njengoba sikhula usuku nosuku isibalo sabantu baseZimbabwe ababalekela kuleli laseNingizimu Africa bazithola bebhekana nezinkinga ezahlukene kubalwa naleyo yokungamukelwa ezibhedlela nasemitholampilo uma bedinga usizo lokwelashwa kungakhathaleki noma banazo izincwadi ezibachaza njengababaleki.

GILBERT MOYO: Ngikhuluma ngento nami engike ngahlangana nayo, uthi uma uya esibhedlela ukhipha iphepha lakho mhlawumbe uma lisewuSection 22 elikunikeza imvume ukuthi ungahlala ungakasitholi istatus sakho (sokuba umbaleki), uma ufika esibhedlela bathi ngoba awunawo umazisi waseNingizimu Africa ngeke size sikwazi ukukusiza.

MABUTHO: UMn Moyo uthi bebengathanda ukuthi uhulumeni waseNingizimu Africa ake angenelele kuloludaba lokuhlukumezeka kwabo njengababaleki baseZimbabwe ngoba bakuleli nje abathandi kodwa isimo esibhekene nezwe labo esibaphoqayo ukuthi babe kuleli.

GILBERT MOYO: Siyafisa nathi ukuhlala ezweni lakithi, siyafisa nathi ukuthi sibe nemindeni yethu. Kodwa uma kuvela isimo sokugula besifisa ukuthi uhulumeni waseNingizimu Africa ukwazi ukusizana nathi usithathe njengabantu abamnyama, njengabantu abangama Africa, basithathe njengabafowabo.

MABUTHO: USazi Mpofu ungomunye wababaleki baseZimbawe abafika imihla namalanga kuleli bengenazo izincwadi zokuba ngababaleki. Uthi nakuba inqwaba yabanye ababaleki abangenazo izincwadi bephelela endleleni, yena ukwazile ukuthi afike kuleli. Uthi sinye nje isifiso anaso, ukuthi uhulumeni abakhumbule ezinhlelweni zakhe zezempilo njengababaleki.

SAZI MPOFU: Bengingathanda ukuthi uhulumeni walapha aqonde ukuthi asisuki le kwelaseZimbabwe ngokuthanda kwethu. Nathi siyathanda ukuthi sihlale eZimbabwe ngoba ilapho saziwa khona, ilapho esikhulele khona, yikhona lapho sijabula uma sikhona. Ngokunjalo besifuna ukuthi uhulumeni ake ahlale phansi enze inkulumompikiswano ukuthi angenzenjani ngalenkinga esibhekana nayo (njengababaleki). Angiboni ukuthi bekungaba nenkinga uma uhulumeni engake athathe isikhathi abheke ukuthi singeke yini nathi sifakwe ezinhlelweni zezempilo njengababaleki abangenaso istatus. Ngibona ukuthi uma uhulumeni angenza kanjalo nemikhuhlane kanye nalezi ezinye izifo ezisihluphayo kungaphela.

MABUTHO: USox Chikohweru wenhlangano yabahlali baseZimbabwe abakuleli, Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum uthi kuyadabukisa ukuthi njengabahlali baseZimbabwe kuleli bazithola bebhekana nezinselela ezifana nokwenqatshelwa usizo lwezimpilo kuleli ekubeni abalweli benkululeko bakuleli babesizakala emazweni angaphandle. Uthi yena njengomuntu owayengumlweli wenkululeko kwelaseZimbabwe ukhumbula ukuthi ubaba wakhe wayebasiza ngokubahlalisa abakuleli ezweni lakubo ngale kokuthi abafune amakhadi okuba ngababaleki. Uthi ngokukhipha amakhadi okuba amalunga ombutho wezempi uMkhonto weSizwe abakuleli babesizwa kungafani nabo okuthiwa abaye emahhovisini omnyango wezangaphakathi nalapho bafike bashoniswe le nale.

SOX CHIKOHWERU: I am a former freedom fighter myself, my father housed freedom fighters from South Africa in Zimbabwe. All that was needed was an MK card, not a refugee paper, not an asylum paper, not to visit the home affairs for the rest of your life in a foreign country.

MABUTHO: Uthi akukuningi abakufunayo eNingizimu Africa ngaphandle kokuthi bakhumbule ukuthi babesizwa kanjani ngamazwe angaphandle besekudingisweni bese benza okufanayo nakubona.

SOX CHIKOHWERU: We are not asking for more, but we want them to look back and see how they were assisted by other countries and also do the same to us, not only to us (Zimbabwe refugees), but all refugees in South Africa.

MABUTHO: ULauren Landau wenhlangano emele ababaleki kuleli, iNational Consortium for Refugees Affairs nezinze enyuvesi yaseWits uthi umthethosisekelo waseNingizimu Africa uyabavumela ababaleki abanezincwadi ezibachaza njengababaleki ukuthi bathole usizo lwezokwelashwa uma beludinga. Uthi kodwa nalabo abangenazo izincwadi ngokomthethosisekelo banalo lelolungelo uma bexinwa ukugula okudinga usizo oluphuthumayho.

LAUREN LANDAU: Refugees who are legally recognized by the South African government have the same rights to health care as any South African citizen or a permanent resident. People who are asylum seekers – those are the people who have applied to be refugees, but who have not yet been recognized – have limited rights and have to pay some fees. But everyone in South Africa, whether they are asylum seekers or refugees, have rights to emergency or life-saving care according to the Constitution.

MABUTHO: Uthi kodwa ukungabi nalo ulwazi kwabasebenzi bezempilo ngamalungelo ababaleki kanye nokucwasana ngokobuzwe kunomthelela omkhulu ekuhlukunyezweni kwamalungelo ababaleki uma befuna usizo lokwelashwa kuleli.

LAUREN LANDAU: There is a also a real problem of health-care professionals who are not aware of the rights that migrant refugees have to the services. There are also instances where there is outright age discrimination, where people are told to go away, that ‘€˜these are our resources. We do not have enough resources for foreigners, for people who are not South African’€.

MABUTHO: Isikhungo esibhekele abahlukunyeziwe kuleli iCentre for Studies for Violence and Reconciliation, bathi bakuba benazo izibalo kanye namagama ababaleki baseZimbabwe ababhekana nalenkinga kepha ngenxa yobucayi baloludaba kanye nesikhathi esidingakalayo ukuze kutholakale imininingwane abakazukuyidalula kwabezindaba okwamanje.  Khonamanjalo okhulumela umnyango wezempilo kuleli uMn Sbani Mngadi uthi ngokwazi kwakhe akwamukelekile ukunqatshelwa kwababaleki usizo lwezempilo kwimitholampilo kanye nasezibhedlela zikahulumeni kuleli. Uthi uma noma ngabe kabanazo izincwadi ezifanele kodwa uma kunesimo esiphuthumayo kumele banikwe usizo lokwelashwa kuqala ngaphambi kokuba babhekane nomnyango wezangaphakathi ngokuba kuleli ngokungemthetho.

SIBANI MNGADI: If there is a need for an emergency health-care, we do not deny anyone access. We can then deal with the illegal issues in conjunction with the department of Home Affairs. But we need to make it clear that people who have refugee status, permanent and non-permanent residents, need to get the same level of health-care.

MABUTHO: Ngokombiko wenhlangano emele amalungelo oluntu ezinze kwelaseMelika iHuman Rights Watch nakuba izwe laseNingizimu Africa linemithetho emihle ebhalwe phansi elawula ukuphathwa kwababaleki, kepha igcina ngokubhalwa phansi kayibasizi abababaleki. Balinganiselwa ezigidini ezintathu abaseZimbabwe abakuleli, kanti usuku nosuku ngamakhulukhulu ababaleki baseZimbabwe bangena kuleli ngokungemthetho kanye nalabo abangena ngokusemthethweni.

ENGLISH SUMMARY

The plight of Zimbabwean refugees in SA

Organizations representing Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa calling upon the government to intervene in challenges they face in accessing health care in the country.

Gilbert Moyo, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Action Group (ZAG), says that as the number of the Zimbabwe refugees increase daily, they find themselves in a difficult situation  where South African hospitals and clinics deny refugees medical care. Moyo says this treatement is meted out not only to those who don’€™t have refugee status, but also to those who have the documents to prove that they are legal refugees in the country.

‘€œI speak from my own experience. iIf you go to the hospital and produce your section 22 paper ‘€“ which permits you to reside in the country while still waiting for your refugee status, they tell you they can’€™t help you because you do not have the South African bar coded ID,’€ he said.   Moyo says,  Zimbabweans are not in South Africa by choice, and called on the government to intervene. ‘€œWe would like to be in our country, we are not here because we like to be here, but we are here because of the problems we are faced with back home. Therefore, we would like the South African government to help, so that we can be treated like ordinary people.’€

Sazi Mpofu, 30, is one of the hundreds of illegal Zimbabwean refugees who arrived daily in South Africa due to the political and socio-economic crisis in Zimbabwe. He says although he is in the country illegally, he would like to see the government accommodating all refugees regardless of their status.

‘€œI want the South African government to know that we are here not because of our will. We love to stay in Zimbabwe because that is where we grew up, that is where we feel happy. We want the government to sit down and debate about this problem (not accessing health care). I don’€™t think there is going to be much of a problem if the government can allow asylum seekers to have access to health care,’€ he said.

Sox Chikohweru of the Zimbabwe Diaspora Forum says it is sad that as Zimbabweans living in South Africa  find themselves being refused access to health care, whereas South African freedom fighters were given all the help they needed when they were in foreign countries during the struggle against apartheid. He says as a freedom fighter himself, he remembers how his father used to help South African freedom fighters regardless of their refugee status.

‘€œI am a former freedom fighter myself.  My father housed freedom fighters from South Africa in Zimbabwe. All that was needed was an MK card, not a refugee paper, not an asylum paper, not to visit the home affairs for the rest of your life in a foreign country. All that was needed was an MK card.

‘€œWe are not asking for more, but we want them to look back and see how they were assisted by other countries and to also do the same for us, not only for us (Zimbabwe refugees), but all refugees in South Africa,’€ he said.

Lauren Landau, Director of the Wits University-based, National Consortium for Refugees Affairs says  the country’€™s Constitution allows refugees and asylum seekers access to health care. However, lack of knowledge of health professional about the rights of refugees as well as xenophobic discrimination against refugees make it difficult for refugees to access health care.

‘€œRefugees who are legally recognized by the South African government have the same rights to health care as any South African citizen or a permanent resident. People who are asylum seekers – those are the people who have applied to be refugees, but who have not yet been recognized – have limited rights and have to pay some fees. But everyone in South Africa whether they are asylum seekers or refugees have rights to emergency or life saving care.

‘€œThere is also a real problem of health care professionals who are not aware of the rights that migrant refugees have to the services. There are also instances where there is outright discrimination, where people are told to go away, that ‘€˜these are our resources. We do not have enough resources for foreigners, for people who are not South African’€™,’€ he added.

Meanwhile, the health department spokesperson, Sbani Mngadi says, ‘€œIif there is a need for an emergency health care, we do not deny anyone access. We can then deal with the illegal issues in conjunction with the department of Home Affairs. But we need to make it clear that people who have refugee status, permanent and non-permanent residents, need to get same level of health care.’€

 

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