We hosted a Roundtable Discussion in Joburg on the question of Migrants and Social Housing. There have been various issues in the media especially concerning the situation of migrants in the inner city of Johannesburg and the various unfortunate comments made by politicians about migrants criminally taking over housing spaces. The speaker for the Roundtable, Brilliant Nyambi from Africa Unite, gave a very good presentation and pointed out the various challenges that migrants face regarding housing in all spaces, and not just when it comes to social housing. The problem for migrants starts with problems regarding documentation from the Department of Home Affairs. Many of those present concurred with the point made that because migrants either do not receive the right documents, or have not documents at all, or have such short term documents they are unable to get bank accounts both because of the incomplete documents and the inability to get a residential address to access services, and to top it all up, there is such a huge amount of ignorance both from civil servants such as the police and government officials, to ordinary people in banks or landlords and so on, that the documents migrants have are often treated with suspicion or unknown and unrecognised by most of these individuals in authority, thus creating huge problems for the migrants. The discussion came to the consensus that what was primarily needed in the country was education about migrants, their rights and documents in the country, and secondly, there was an urgent need for the Department of Home Affairs to carry out its duties towards migrants efficiently and in accordance with the constitution. All agreed to take up the first matter in various spaces, and CPLO would pay particular attention to policy issues around the question of migrants and their documentation.
L-R: Fr Matsepane Morare SJ (Land and Human Settlements Researcher, CPLO), Fr Peter-John Pearson (Director, CPLO), and Mr Brilliant Nyambi (Youth Peer Educator Coordinator, Africa Unite)