I have a wife and kids, but I’m unable to provide for them as life is very difficult; hence, I came to South Africa, in search of a better future-Samuel Mafatle

Coronavirus pandemic has posed a major challenge to health care systems worldwide, and will also likely have long-lasting effects on the economy, pushing millions around the world into precarity and poverty.

The already vulnerable will be hit even harder: the slum dwellers, irregular and undocumented migrants who are mostly women, and low-skilled migrant workers engaged in the informal sector. Furthermore, as migrant workers lose their jobs, this will impact not only the economies they work in, but also their home countries’ economies.

Samuel Mafatle, 44, a man from Lesotho came to South Africa with a bag hoping for a change for his family. He is so optimistic enough that he will provide for his family for the better. However, due to his working conditions, visiting home is a challenge for him.

“It is very difficult to be in my home country and unable to find employment. The heart of the matter is that I’m here to work hard to provide for my family. I have a wife and kids, but I’m unable to provide for them as life is very difficult; hence, I came to South Africa, in search of a better future,” Mafatle said.

“I came to South Africa in 1998 and went around looking for employment.  It was very stressful. Sometimes you go out there and nobody wants to help you. I came too far north to Limpopo province in 2018.  The people of Limpopo have humility. They respect us, treat us as human beings and I never felt like an outsider. I never felt like I'm coming from a different country- I felt belonging. They treated me like their own son.”

Mafatle is looking after more than 200 cattle in the community of GaMaraba, Limpopo. 

Kgošigadi (Queen) M.R.L Matlala is living in harmony with migrants coming from different countries across the world.  The Matlala tribe hadn’t encountered any cause of abuse, murder, or human rights violation against migrants.

Matlala said, “On their arrival, they are due to come to our tribal offices and introduce themselves. As per request, their documentation should be in a good state. For those who struggle with such, we work together with our local Home Affairs Department to assist in that matter. We are working tirelessly to ensure transparency amongst us. Some of them aren’t willing to give us all information about their biological background. This shows that we’re trying, by all means, to ensure that their communities are living together and also ensuring that there's social cohesion, there’s unity as well as diversity among the community members.”

Meanwhile, the House of Traditional Leaders in the province has lambasted the state for being lenient on migrants who are undocumented.

“Undocumented immigrants are giving us a lot of challenges. For example, recently one of the migrants passed away, and then we didn't know his information, so we had to bury him and write his name where he got buried- in case his family might look for him.

“We are appealing to our society, our government especially to traditional leaders in the communities to register the migrants entering their communities. The database is very important and will assist us for future referrals,” said Kgoši Malesela Dikgale from House of Traditional Leaders.