Happy to be going home

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

Mbomo Lutumba's face lit up when a bus pulled up outside the Riet Family Guidance Centre in Randfontein yesterday morning.

The centre has been home to her and her 10 children for the past three weeks.

Yesterday, it was time for her and other women to leave South Africa, its xenophobes and camps, for good.

Lutumba, 50, and her family were transported to OR Tambo International Airport to catch a flight back home to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Her husband Joe and oldest son Mulumba were also brought back from the Lindela repatriation centre to join them on the flight to Ngoma, DRC.

"I am so happy to have my family together so that we can all go home," she said.

Her daughter Grace, 18, who has a two-year-old-son, said that though she was supposed to be sitting for her matric examinations this year, she was happy to go back home.

The family lived in Bertrams, Johannesburg, before they were driven out during the recent xenophobic attacks.

Fifty-four Congolese were flown home yesterday. About nine Burundians who are housed at the Riet Centre will also be repatriated.

Pamela Msizi of the United Nations Refugee Agency said those who left yesterday and today did so voluntarily.

"These were recognised refugees with full refugee status," Msizi said.

"They decided that they no longer wanted to stay in South Africa. We obliged and arranged for them to go home."