Shelters for displaced foreign nationals in and around Musina, in South Africa’s Limpopo Province, say they are overwhelmed with requests to take in stranded Zimbabweans.
A significant number of Zimbabweans have been crossing the border into South Africa illegally but cannot return home in the wake of the hard lockdown and are now in need of shelter in the neighbouring country.
A 16-year-old girl who has been a resident at the MG Matsaung Centre located at the Uniting Reformed Church in Nancefield township in Musina, for 6 years, said she doesn’t want to return to Zimbabwe.
Now in Grade 8, the girl walked into South Africa at the age of 10 from Zimbabwe with a group of other minors in search for greener pastures. She said:
I don’t wish like to go to Zimbabwe, I mean I would go but then I feel at home here. I don’t miss anything. Like since I was a child all I wanted was to go to school but then here I’m going to school, I have nothing to worry about.
… When I grow up I want to be an actress and when I will be an actress, my first earnings I will donate it here to other children because I know that other children the same age as me will be here too so I want to donate them something to make them feel at home like I did.
Meanwhile, Jacob Matakanye from the centre says they have been inundated with requests to take in kids that have been abandoned in recent weeks but cannot take more due to lack of funding. He said:
We have got a lot of pressure, people request our intervention so that we can take care of kids to come and stay here, but we have got a problem that at present we have a problem with funds and we are afraid if take more children without resources. Again this will cause more problem of not being able to feed them or take care of them.
Shelters for older people have also been turning away stranded foreign nationals.
South Africa is home to millions of Zimbabweans who have escaped the country’s economic challenges caused by decades of massive corruption and mismanagement.