Source: Daily Maverick (South Africa)
By Lotte Manicom
Thousands of Angolan refugees – who fled civil war to SA 20 years ago – are facing possible mass deportation next year. They have been granted temporary visas with legal stay until midnight on 31 December 2021. Many of these visas are erroneous, resulting in hundreds of ‘frozen’ lives.
The civil wars in Angola, which stretched over 27 years and forcibly displaced five million people, were especially brutal. So horrific were the war crimes that some were granted refugee protection in South Africa based solely on trauma – rather than on the legal grounds of conflict or persecution. In one such case, a man was forced to eat his own father.
In the late 1990s, thousands of Angolans fled across land, hiding themselves in fruit and petrol trucks that were headed southwards across Namibia. They arrived in a “new South Africa” where the progressive Refugees Act had just been promulgated. Older Angolan refugees recall how they were “welcomed” by the government-run Refugee Reception Office; some were offered coffee and blankets upon applying for asylum.
Fast-forward 20 years, and this same community is facing possible mass deportation to Angola at the end of next year.