ZIMBABWE – A number of foreigners — mainly Zimbabweans staying in Johannesburg in South Africa — are stranded after a principal at Muzomuhle Primary School barred them from enrolling their children for the 2016 academic year.
The school is located in Diepsloot West.
The actual number of affected children could not be established but sources in that country said over 50 parents were turned away by the school’s principal last week on Thursday.
The school head reportedly told them he would not register illegal immigrants.
Some of the parents said they had valid documents. South African schools opened on Wednesday last week.
Foreigners make up 18 percent of the population of Diepsloot and South Africans from Limpopo and Kwazulu Natal provinces build this non-Gauteng total to more than 50 percent.
One of the parents, Mr Donias Tshuma, a Zimbabwean, told journalists that his child, who is in Grade 8, was barred from the school because he is an illegal immigrant. “My asylum expired last year and I approached the Department of Home Affairs for renewal but they keep giving me other dates.
“I am worried about the education and future of my child,” he said.
Mr Tshuma said parents were told to approach the Department of Home Affairs to resolve the dispute.
Gauteng province’s Department of Education spokesperson, Mr Oupa Bodibe, confirmed the barring of foreigners.
“What we gather is that the headmaster asked the parents to bring their documents otherwise the children would not be registered for this academic year. The documents regularising their stay are needed for registration at the school” said Mr Bodibe.
The spokesperson for the Diaspora Forum in South Africa, Mr Marc Gbaffou called on the Department of Education to reconsider its position.
“We are deeply concerned about what is happening in schools. We will engage with the Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, to come up with a solution to this issue. These children know nothing. They do not understand anything about illegal migration and honestly they cannot be deprived of their right to education” he said.
Home Affairs spokesperson, Mr Thabo Mokgola could not be reached for comment. Zimbabwe’s Consul general to South Africa, Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro, called on Zimbabweans to apply for the required visas before travelling to other countries so as to avoid unnecessary situations.
“Parents need to ensure that their children are well documented in order not to compromise their chances to benefit from education and other social benefits” he said.