no respite for zim refugees

Zimbabweans living in and around the Central Methodist Church in the Johannesburg city centre have mixed feelings about returning home. They all agree, however, that lack of jobs drive them to South Africa.

Linah Zuma, 21, from Masvingo in southeastern Zimbabwe, said she arrived in Johannesburg yesterday morning after boarding a train at Musina in Limpopo.

"There is a train in Musina that ferries people with asylum papers for free. I came here because there is no money in Zimbabwe. I don't know anyone here but I am sure I can find a job, any job," she said.

Asked why she decided to leave Zimbabwe while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was trying to encourage people to return home, Zuma said: "There is peace, yes, but life is tough."

Her spirit was deflated within hours of arriving in Johannesburg when she met fellow Zimbabwean Jacob Ndlovu.

Ndlovu, a welder, has been in Johannesburg for four months. He says despite his daily efforts, he is still jobless.

Steven Tarwirei has also been pounding the streets looking for a job without success.

"Before the police started chasing us away, I used to sleep outside the church with no blanket," he said.

But Peter Kani said: "I will not return home. There are no jobs in Zimbabwe. Tsvangirai does not know what he is talking about. He is not suffering like we are."