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A contribution for the understanding of the legislation on repatriation on Southern Africa

4. The complaints of the migrants

One of the difficulties that illegal migrants face is getting the documentation to legalise their stay. Some Mozambican citizens did not benefit from the amnesty given by South Africa in 1996 to the citizens of the SADC region who live in that country for more than five years working in activities officially recognised by the state. One of the reasons is the corruption of the officials involved in this process. Although it was supposed to be free they went on to demand bribes.

One another reason has to do with the allegation that Mozambicans are there to steal the jobs of South African citizens. A study conducted by Covane, already referred to above, demonstrate that 46.3% of the informants refuse to accept that to be the reason. They counter charge saying that they South African colleagues disappear on the pay day only to come back when they have finished off the money.

In Swaziland, naturalisation is covered by a local traditional system known as “Mkhota”. In an attempt to benefit from this system some Mozambicans are robbed of their monies by some traditional chiefs who find in them an easy source to enrich themselves.

According to information given by some of the Mozambican repatriated from South Africa there is a stark difference between the salaries offered to illegal migrants and that offered to South African despite the fact that the two are doing the same jobs and under the same obligations. To make matters worse, the farmers and the police connive in detriment of the illegal migrants. On the day before the pay-day, some farmers denounce the presence of these illegal workers to the police. The police officers act and get some hand oiling from the farmers!

The illegal migrants are then repatriated without any information being provided to their next-of-kin. Worse still, they are not even given the opportunity to collect their belongings such as money or goods that they may have acquired during their stay. In order to buy back their freedom, some police officers demand large bribes from the unfortunate workers. Illegal migrants also mention that the police officers often resort to physical torture against them.

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