Mozambican refugees in Mpumalanga concerned over the blocking of their identity documents

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Mozambican nationals who fled the civil war in the ’80s, now living in Lilydale east of Bushuckridge in Mpumalanga have raised concern about the blocking of their identity documents.

They allege that their refugee status that was granted in 1992 has now been cancelled and they are regarded as illegal immigrants.

The Mozambican refugees say they arrived in Lilydale in the 1980s. They claim that they obtained refugee status by following all the processes. They say life is extremely difficult for them. Since their IDs were blocked a few years ago, they can’t access their money in banks and children can’t go to school.

Cebile Shelenge says her parents came to South Africa in early 1980. Shelenge went to school in Lilydale and completed matric. However, she can’t pursue further studies, because she has no ID.

“One of my four-year-olds was supposed to be at crash now but she doesn’t go there because she doesn’t have a certificate so as a mother it affects me because I have to make a plan but there’s nothing I can do because I don’t have an ID because my mom wasn’t born here, she was born in Mozambique. Even though we grew up here because she doesn’t have the necessary documents, we have to end up suffering now as we also don’t have those IDs. I completed my matric at Mbodzeni High school, at the time of the examinations they told me to go to the police station and ask for an affidavit.”

Zweli Ngomane states that his ID document was suspended in 2017, after having voted in all the elections that were held in South Africa. He says is currently owning vehicles and unable to pay for their license discs because his ID has been deregistered.

“I started to stay in South Africa in 1983 and then in 2017 I went to the bank – I wanted some money, then at the bank I was told that my ID has been blocked and they advised me to go the Home Affairs offices. At the Home Affairs, I wanted to know what was wrong with my ID, Home Affairs confirmed that my ID has been suspended. Then I’ve asked them what to do because I also wanted to live like any person because now I can’t have access to my money and now with the COVID-19 I can’t register to get the vaccine.”

An Organisation representing the Mozambican Refugees, Mahlo ya Rixaka, has taken the government to court over the matter.

Mahlo ya Rixaka’s Hamilton Thabakgole says the North Gauteng High Court instructed the Department of Home Affairs to unblock their IDs, but nothing has happened so far.

Thabakgole says World Refugees Day means nothing to them because their children have no future.

“It means now they cannot access a lot of things which they could before. Let say a business person, who had people, who had taxi owners, their taxis are grounded, they cannot access the money they banked. They cannot pay their debts, all sorts the guys who are employed they cannot access their salaries at the end of the month, their accounts are closed and all sorts. So from just closing, we experience different problems whose ID is has been deregistered.”

Thabakgole says they are pleading with the Department of Home Affairs to at least challenge the court order and not remain silent, while they are struggling. He says they are not sure if some of them are being vaccinated for the coronavirus without ID’s.

“Of course it is a worrying factor because we not looking at a person whose ID is deregistered, we talking about just anyone who doesn’t have an ID because being without an ID or with a deregistered ID is just about the same thing. You need an ID to get into the system. There is no other way we know that you can follow to get a vaccine without an ID.”

The Human Rights Commission in its research stated that in the last years of apartheid and during the 1994 elections in South Africa especially in Bushbuckridge, the community regarded Mozambican refugees as part of their community.

The plight of Mozambican civil war refugees: