African migrants in South Africa deported over xenophobia protests


South Africa’s department of home affairs said that they have started the process of deporting 20 migrants, mostly from African countries, who were part of a months-long protest against xenophobia.

The protests began in October 2019 in Cape Town with a sit-in outside the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

They were demanding to be relocated to a third country outside South Africa and didn’t want to return to their countries of origin.

Canada was some of the migrants’ preferred choice, said South Africa’s Home Affairs department in a statement.

Hundreds of people took part in the protest campaign which lasted five months, and saw the migrants occupy a church where they were given refuge.

At the time the migrants said they did not feel safe because of xenophobic attacks in South Africa’s townships, and that they were treated poorly and discriminated against.

Since 2008, there have been numerous outbreaks of xenophobic violence targeting foreign nationals from the rest of the continent in townships across the country.

Migrants are often targeted in the communities where they live, accused of stealing jobs and resources.

A Burundian woman who the BBC spoke to earlier this year said she fled unrest in her home country years earlier for South Africa, a place where she thought she was safe, but was attacked and raped by a man who remained at large.

Despite requests made by the BBC, South African authorities have not disclosed the names nor the destination countries of the 20 people being deported.

In a statement, the Department of Home Affairs said it had followed “due process”, adding that “the affected foreign nationals have already been transferred to Lindela Repatriation Centre for deportation purposes”.

The BBC’s Nomsa Maseko in Johannesburg says more migrants are expected to be deported. (Source: BBC)