Monday, July 6, 2009

refugees in S.A. speak

This morning on the news we watched as scores of people were being man handled and arrested by the police in down town Johannesburg. We also listened to the reporters saying South Africa has became one of the top ten no go countries for refugees , this information brought with it mixed massages of sadness, anger and frustration .
As an organization that works in trying to make life easier for the less fortunate members of our community, one begins to wonder if this is going to be all in vain, as more and more refugees as well as the less fortunate South African who find themselves in this situation are treated like sub humans by the very same people who are meant to protect them. “If you are poor you do not deserve respect, you have no dignity, and most of all you are not human at all”. Is this the world we want to live in?
How did the poor became SO very poor any way?
In the days leading up to world refugee day celebrations on June 20, WWWA peer educators did information sharing with member of the refugee community in different service offices, like the DHA, Scalabrini Refugee Services and at the Cape Town refugee centre in wynbery, people were asked to share their feelings about what it means to be a refugee in the Republic of South Africa,
We wish to share with our partners and friends in the next coming weeks some of these feelings. Comments and suggestions are welcome.

From M

"Even the government itself does not take us as human beings here in South Africa, especially on the police side. If you are a foreigner and you are treated badly, the police do not treat you seriously when you report to them.

As an example, my brother was shot dead in Philippi on 23 /05 2009, and the police were notified. They came to the scene to take a statement and some pictures and some bullets ., but what surprised me is that on 10 / 6 / 2009 we tried to get help to bury my brother, the police said that they had no such case reported to them. I thought that they did not take this case seriously because he was a foreigner."

From T

"The problem that I have as a refugee is that when I entered South Africa in April last year, I tried to apply for asylum. I managed to get one month stay then my asylum was rejected and I was supposed to leave the country within 30 days or to appeal before 14 days. I tried to go for appeal but they kept postponing until the given days were over.
I was told to get a letter from a lawyer or to come with one, but the lawyers said that they needed R 2,500 to go and stand for me. Because I was not working, I could not get that money and this problem is still blocking the situation: I am a code 14 drivers but everywhere I go they ask for a valid paper and a bank account. I cannot have a bank account if I do not have a refugee status. I have been struggling since September last year. I do not know if you can help to have a status."

From Ph8

"People in South Africa select refugees according to their country of origin. Usually, those from Zimbabwe are disliked everywhere.

Sometimes South Africans take chances to do whatever pleases them to the refugees. Here are some of the things which are done by South African citizens who are given authority:
- they put the law into their hands
- they are not saving people as the government has tasked them to do
- Even the police are not doing their job properly: they select to handle problems according to your place of origin. I am saying this because my brother Tinashe was shot and killed in his room in Philippi, but the police did not take it seriously. They did not even try to investigate the story because they knew that the deceased was a foreigner and a refugee. One week after the tragedy, they located three guys in the room where the deceased was killed, but they did not give time to trace the story. They just let them go. We are still breathing fire because we do not have any document from the police so that we can seek assistance to bury the deceased. This tragedy happened at house no 16020, Tshatshu road, Philippi. The police came but they could not produce any written document for the murder until we contacted the Scalabrini Refugee Service for help. This is how they deal with foreigners.
- I suppose they should clearly state that they cannot assist refugees or foreigners so that we know that there is no one to protect us."

to be continued

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