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Elderly citizens of Musina attend the statelessness workshop at Musina Community Hall

Citizen Justice Network (CJN) recently held a workshop in Limpopo, Musina, where they were addressing the difficulty of statelessness because of the close proximity of the neighboring country, Zimbabwe. We were there to listen, facilitate and provide relevant information on how the community can access justice. The workshop was hosted by Musina Legal Advise Office in partnership with CJN, also present was the USAID, Lawyers for Human Rights, and the community, specifically, the elderly.

CJN’s workshops on statelessness in Musina and Meqheleng play a part in the initiatives by the government and other research institutes on immigration, who have also had a heightened interest in South Africa’s immigration policies. This is because of the shortcomings of the department of Home Affairs, bribery at border crossings, xenophobic attacks as well as the deteriorating state of border crossings for neighboring countries. The Minister of State Security has spoken out on this; reporting that South Africa has many undocumented immigrants and “now is the time that the law on immigrants be strictly applied”. He also pointed out that there is a need for staff to be capacitated so that in future Home Affairs can be held accountable for undocumented people. Lastly, he confirmed that corruption has played a huge role hence it has become easy for those coming into the country to bribe officials.  

Communities in Musina, Limpopo and Kwaphuza, KZN have complained about how they meet new and undocumented foreigners every day and even spot carjacking crews regularly when cars are left unattended at the border. They insist that officials who are deployed are aware of this problem but take bribes at the border gates, an illegal act that the South African Police and South African National Defence Force (SANDF) take part in- while they are meant to be protecting the community. The community has a right to security according to the Bill of Rights but this is not being provided. The community is also responsible for building order and collectively confronting corruption against public officials. In 2018, the official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), undertook patrolling at numerous border crossings as a way to determine the extent of illegal immigration, the lack and misuse of resources spoken of. They visited Beit bridge border (Limpopo- Zimbabwe); Manguzi border (Kwa-Zulu Natal- Mozambique) and Skilpadshek border (North-West- Botswana).

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) reported in 2018 that women were moving more than ever before without their male counterpart and in Africa, most of these women are moving to South Africa. When they arrive in the country, however, they experience Xenophobia and are violently abused by their employers in under-regulated sectors such as domestic and agricultural work. More often, than not, foreign women also experience Xenophobia from government officials in the health sector, legal sector and by the Police. The continuous struggle of the government against Xenophobia, gender-based violence and exploitation has certainly not been enough and some of these women have even called on to civil society organizations to assist them. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has received numerous complaints with concerns to ill-treatment of foreign nationals by authorized and unauthorized persons – the Bill of Rights states that foreign nationals have a right to human dignity and the right to freedom and security. Therefore, legally they are protected and represented in South Africa.

Ntombikayise Gijana,

Editorial Intern

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