South Africa Crisis: Expats hold vigil amid riots and ask government for border exemptions

New Zealand

07/19/2021 05:08

Storage units were looted and set on fire in Waterfall, near Durban. Video / Included

From RNZ

South African expats gathered in Wellington and Auckland today to ask the government to consider exemptions for families separated by the closed borders.

They say there are humanitarian reasons to allow all partners and families in South Africa to join the expats here after violence increased in their home country.

The riots quickly degenerated into looting that destroyed hundreds of businesses and killed more than 200 people, fueled by widespread anger over poverty and inequality that lingered nearly three decades after the end of white minority rule.

People queue for food in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.  Photo / APPeople queue for food in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Photo / AP

It was triggered by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, who was convicted last month for defying a judicial investigation into high-level corruption while in office.

Expats gathered on the steps of Parliament this afternoon for a vigil organized by Melody McCabe.

McCabe told Morning Report families here were incredibly concerned about their loved ones back home.

“I think the aim of today’s vigil is first and foremost to create awareness of what is happening in South Africa and to show solidarity with all South Africans who are currently going through this.

“People are scared, they worry about their family and friends, and there is great uncertainty about what will happen in the future.”

In a shopping mall in Durban, South Africa, shoppers queue to buy essentials.  Photo / APIn a shopping mall in Durban, South Africa, shoppers queue to buy essentials. Photo / AP

They urged the government to consider issuing a separated family visa to meet their partners in New Zealand.

A plainclothes policeman chases looters at a shopping mall in Johannesburg's Soweto township.  Photo / APA plainclothes policeman chases looters at a shopping mall in Johannesburg’s Soweto township. Photo / APChildren are evacuated from a burning building in downtown Durban.  Photo / APChildren are evacuated from a burning building in downtown Durban. Photo / AP

“There were many South Africans on their way to New Zealand who may have been issued a work visa and who could not come due to the Covid lockdown last year.

“So it has certainly hit a lot of people who are currently working here and couldn’t take their partners and children with them, or those who had permanent job offers and sold everything to come to New Zealand.”

McCabe said, however, that although closed borders were the main reason for many family separations, immigration to New Zealand in general is now proving difficult.

“In my opinion [for] With many immigrants, not just South Africans, but many people looking to immigrate to New Zealand, it has been quite difficult for people to follow the guidelines and rules. And it’s a constantly evolving, changing situation. “

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