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Home Affairs: We are not to blame for Wits student’s suicide

File Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

File Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

Published May 11, 2022

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Johannesburg - The Department of Home Affairs has responded to suggestions that a Wits PhD candidate, Philip Chuma, had committed suicide, in part, due to its failure to issue him with a student visa.

On May 10, IOL reported that former Zimbabwe minister of education, Professor Jonathan Moyo branded South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi an Aphrophobe.

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Moyo tweeted “PHILIP CHUMA, a Ph.D. candidate at Wits University in Johannesburg, died by suicide over the weekend; in a tragic case that has the evil trappings of the anti-Zimbabwean Afrophobia being pursued by Minister Motsoaledi at Home Affairs. Chuma played by the rules, to no avail. MHSRIP!”

In response to the insinuation that the DHA was to blame for the tragedy, the department issued a statement addressing the issue.

That statement in part reads: “The Minister issued Directions gazetted on 28 September 2021 opening applications for visas under the Immigration Act, including study visas. The student was a holder of a study visa which expired in January 2022. Nothing prevented the said student from registering since September 2021. Furthermore, there was no hurdle for him to register with the University without the involvement of the DHA. Indeed, many foreign students successfully registered at various learning institutions, including Wits University.”

Referring specifically to the case of Philip Chuma, the statement indicated that his ability to register was in no way dependent on paperwork from the department, as his visa was still valid.

According to the statement, Chuma only applied for his visa on April 21, 2022.

The assertion made in a statement by Wits University that Chuma was in regular contact with the DHA has been labelled as mischievous by the department.

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Chuma had been doing his Ph.D. on the transition of newly qualified teachers into their first teaching position in Zimbabwean schools. He was at an advanced stage of his work, having completed his data analysis chapters and was busy working on the discussion and interpretation of his findings.

It had been hoped that his Ph.D. would be ready for examination towards the latter part of the year.

In order to be able to complete his studies, Philip obtained a teaching assistant bursary from Wits and assisted the school by providing marking support for the geography department and tutoring on Education 1.

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