DANAI MWARUMBA in Harare and NDABENI MLOTSHWA in Bulawayo
HARARE, (CAJ News) – SOME 100 Zimbabwean nationals illegally living in South Africa have voluntarily returned from the neighbouring country following a change of government in Zimbabwe.
Most who arrived in the capital Harare and Bulawayo had been in South Africa for over ten years during which they evaded arrest by the South African Police Service (SAPS) and detection by Home Affairs immigration officers.
They are looking forward to rebuilding their lives in Zimbabwe following the ouster of longtime president, Robert Mugabe, last month.
Emmerson Mnangagwa is the new leader.
“The ouster of Mugabe, was indeed good news for us. The development inspired many of us to leave South Africa to come back home. Living in a foreign land was hell for some of us. We are happy to be back in Zimbabwe, hopefully for good,” said Xolani Moyo of Jotsholo, Matabeleland North upon arrival in Bulawayo.
Moyo said life was not rosy for them in South Africa.
“We lived for the sake of living in South Africa because the environment back home (Zimbabwe) was not conducive. Our economy collapsed under the former regime. There was too much political repression,” Moyo added.
He expressed motivation by Mnangagwa, who promised to make Zimbabwe a better country for all regardless of colour, tribe, race or creed.
A young woman in Magwegwe West, Bulawayo, said she had been working as a housemaid in South Africa to fend for her two children.
“Life was not always easy for me out there in a foreign land. For those ten years, it was hell on earth because I could not walk freely in the streets of Johannesburg,’ she said.
She lamented harassment by police, who are infamous for demanding bribes.
“I was earning only R2 500 per month (US$183) but that money was equally shared between police and my children back home. I’m happy to be back home,” the teary woman said.
“I’m not going back to South Africa provided Mnangagwa fulfills his good promises. Home is the best. I also need land so that I start farming,” she told CAJ News.
Lazarus Hwengwere of Mbare in Harare said he was breathing a sigh of relief to be back home.
He spoke of the temptations foreign men faced in South Africa.
“Life in a foreign land was not easy! If you fall in love with some local women, they always made it a point every month you pay them money or else they claim to the police you were raping them,” Hwengwere alleged.
He said his friend (name supplied), who lived in Bramley (Johannesburg) at a Methodist Church was falsely accused of raping a local woman before sent to jail for two years without trial. He was later pardoned when it emerged he never committed such a crime.
“One of my relationships turned my world upside down but going back home was never an option because of the Zanu-PF regime under Mugabe. It feels good to be back home. I’m not going back to South Africa. I believe in the new regime (Mnangagwa), hopefully, things work for all of us here,” Hwengwere said.
The 52 illegal border jumpers arrived in Harare aboard one the buses (name supplied) saying others in Bulawayo (48) travelled on malayitshas (taxis).
Luke Zunga, chairman of the Zimbabwe Global Forum, encouraged Zimbabweans struggling in South Africa to consider returning home.
“The Diaspora Chamber planning is how to prepare Zimbabweans to return as productive citizens in future. Many are willing to return if the economy shows signs of improving. There should be coordinated efforts along these lines, when the new government in Zimbabwe takes shape,” Zunga said.
– CAJ News