Not easy in SA for refugees

Tebogo Monama

Tebogo Monama

Tomorrow is World Refugee Day.

The aim of the day is to highlight the plight of those displaced by conflict, violence or gross human rights violations in their countries of birth.

Jeancy Tshiangu and his family typify the plight that most refugee families face worldwide.

Tshiangu, 34, and his wife Stephanie, 33, are refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

South Africa has been their home for six years but they are still waiting for their refugee status to be formalised.

They live in a flat in Benoni, Ekurhuleni. Tshiangu said: "I have done more than five interviews with the Department of Home Affairs and still have no answer."

Peter Slabbert, of Lawyers for Human Rights, said: "In terms of the law, refugee status has to be confirmed within 180 days of entry into South Africa.

"However, the law as applied is very different from practice and the status is therefore seldom finalised within that period."

Although the couple are in the country legally, they cannot access all the services.

"My wife needs a bank account and she cannot open it because she has no ID. We were recently forbidden from flying because airline companies require valid IDs," said Tshiangu, who holds a psychology degree and a bookkeeping certificate.

They have two young children born in South Africa.