News / South Africa / Local News

Rudy Nkgadima
3 minute read
27 Feb 2019
8:57 am

Congolese living in KZN want to return home

Rudy Nkgadima

Unemployment, the language barrier, and threats of xenophobic attacks have forced them to go back home.

Worshippers pray during a protestant Christmas cult in the Baptist Community of the Congo River in Loma, near Mbanza-Ngungu, Democratic Republic of Congo, on December, 25, 2018, during the Christian holiday of Christmas and five days ahead of the Democratic Republic of the Congo's elections. (Photo by Luis TATO / AFP)

“People always want to go back home, when they are ill or they feel the situation has not improved,” said Yasmin Rajah, director at the Refugee Social Services (RSS) based at the Diakonia Centre.

Rajah’s statement comes after more than 200 Congolese living in KZN and other provinces approached the KZN Christian Council (KZNCC) to assist them to return home to the Congo, reports Berea Mail.

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According to the refugees, the challenges they currently face in South Africa such as gaining employment, the language barrier and threats of xenophobic attacks, has made life here more difficult.

“There are some refugees and asylum seekers who are finding it unbearable to live in South Africa. It is extremely difficult for asylum seekers and refugees to get proper documentation. As we speak, there’s a 99% rejection rate for those who seek asylum in the country. We are aware that there are certain parts in the DRC which are fairly peaceful. We hope that those who want to be repatriated find a more stable country,” she said.

Last week, the KZNCC and other stakeholders conducted a meeting with various government departments, including home affairs, to discuss how these refugees could be assisted.

Deputy chairperson of the KZNCC, pastor Nkosinathi Myaka, said they had been in talks with various government officials who had promised to help.

“We have contacted the DRC government, along with the minister of international relations. The minister has paid us a visit and has committed to try and help, even though the political climate in the DRC is not good at the moment. They said that they would try and reconnect the refugees with their relatives and also provide grants for them for a few months until they are back on their feet. Our job is to try and get help for them through NGO’s,” he said.

According to the department of home affairs, any person who enters the Republic of South Africa through a port of entry claiming to be an asylum seeker is issued with a section 23 permit, which is a non-renewable ‘asylum transit permit’ of the Immigration Act.

The permit is valid for a period of 14 days only and authorizes the person to report to the nearest Refugee Reception Office in order to apply for asylum in terms of the Refugee Act.

The asylum seeker is required to furnish a section 23 permit, any proof of identification from the country of origin, and a travel document if in possession of one.

Brian Minga-Anza, who is a Congolese refugee, said: “I have decided to go back home. I have been living here for 10 years. I have had a good experience, but also a very bad experience. I have been witnessing xenophobia since 2015, and before that, I was a student at DUT, and from there you learn that the process of registering is very difficult.

“As a foreigner, it’s not easy, it’s hard to get the right documentation. Getting a bank account is a big issue, even with getting a job as a graduate is hard. The permit I have is for an asylum seeker which is used by many foreigners that are here, and that does not allow you to get a job. These circumstances force us to go back home.”

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