Associations assisting African immigrants living in South Africa say immigrants feel as though they’re still struggling for liberation in SA. Picture Supplied
Cape Town - On the eve of Africa Day celebrations, associations assisting African immigrants living in South Africa say immigrants feel as though they’re still struggling for liberation, in a country which treats them as foreign.

Miranda Madikane, who directs the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town (SCCT), which offers development and welfare programmes to the migrants, said the landscape for refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa hadn’t changed over the years.

Madikane said immigrants weren’t offered any protection by the government and they suffered as a consequence.

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“Protection for them is deeply compromised. The refugee office in South Africa is closed, which is the consequence of a system that has no integrity. In terms of immigrants, there is no legal pathway to access a legal stay in South Africa. Migration is natural and people have been doing it since the beginning of time. A border is not enough to keep people away from opportunities, but immigrants who come here are not properly managed, and they and their families suffer as a ­consequence,” said Madikane.

The regional director for the Somali Association of South Africa, Dino Jilley, agreed with Madikane, and said that apart from crime and challenges facing South African citizens, foreigners faced the added burden of being foreign, which he said amounted to a crime in South Africa.

“There are always challenges and issues facing immigrants, whether it’s xenophobia, language barriers or being treated differently because they’re foreign. The treatment they get from Home Affairs is also disheartening.

“They don’t get renewal of permits if it has expired, and then you can’t do anything, not even go to hospital, because they’re illegally in the country,” said Jilley.

Jilley said that with Africa Day coming up, people should aspire to respect one another and treat each other like brothers.

Madikane shared this sentiment and said people needed to look inwards and find their identity, not only in South Africa, but in Africa as a continent, and unite together to ensure the struggles of migrants were heard.

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Cape Argus