The group has approached the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) to assist them with efforts to return safely.
The group have also cited crime, xenophobia and being unable to get proper documentation, factors that have made their South African lived experience “miserable”. They want the council to assist them with transportation and proper documentation.
One of those who wants to leave, Daniel Yamungu, said some Congolese nationals had lived in the country for a decade and had endured severe pain and suffering. He said some had lost loved ones during the xenophobic attacks. He said as unemployment increased, they were afraid of being scapegoats.
Yamungu said tension was heightened in the townships and those who were running tuck shops feared attacks were imminent.
“We have written to our minister of foreign affairs but the process was delayed after the elections in January. There is a new government now, and we have to start afresh and it may take longer.
“Life has become tough in such a way that even getting a simple job like car guarding is a challenge. 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,” he said.
Others said raising children in a foreign country was a challenge as they struggle to learn their home language, norms, values and culture.
Brian Minga-Anza said he had decided to return home after spending 10 years in the country.
“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 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,” he said
KZNCC chairperson, Douglas Dziva, said the council had approached all relevant departments to assist.
“From the meetings we had, the department was helpful to clarify the process to those who want to return.
“We have contacted their country of origin because engaging them may not provide the solution. We need to find out why they left the country and look at the possibilities to return.
“Last year the minister of home affairs from Congo came to meet with us about this issue and we have scheduled another meeting next month.
“Ours is to facilitate the meetings with the relevant department. The processes of handling the repatriation or deportation are the responsibility of the home affairs department,” he said.
Siya Qoza, spokesperson for Home Affairs in South Africa said the issue was complex as it needed to be addressed individually.
“First we have to identify how they came into the country. We cannot look into this collectively, everyone must have his or her document then the department will look into available options. We will find more details from our KZN office to determine how we can assist,” he said
Meanwhile, a group of about 80 Zimbabwean nationals marched in Durban on Saturday, calling on the SA government, SADC and the EU to publicly denounce President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for allegedly killing, detaining and arresting Zimbabweans during fuel hike protests.