Xenophobic attacks in Soweto and Philippi have made the headlines this year, but away from the spotlight political or economic refugees struggle each day to make a better life in South Africa. BEAUTY MUGERUWA*, a Zimbabwean living in East London, told Bongiwe Tutu her story.Â
South Africans always ask us: â€œWhat are you doing here in our country? This country has too many of you people â€“ why donâ€
And I have responsibilities at home: my parents died and my aunt needs support for her children and my little sister.
I obtained my diploma in stalls management and inventory control in 2010. I wanted to be involved in procurement of buying and selling goods. But Iâ€
But my dream is to pursue more: I want to advance myself. I want to get a stable, formal job where I can have my salary at the end of the month, with benefits like medical aid. But I havenâ€
I have dropped my CV at a number of places. I even applied to work at a salon where I could use my hairdressing skills, just so I could be doing something and getting something. I even applied to be a grade R teacher, just to find a starting point.
I did find work at a hair studio. But I saw that I was being taken advantage of. The owner did not pay me what we had agreed on so I stopped working there because it was not getting me anywhere.
We had agreed on a payment of R2,500 a month with transport money, because I have to travel to and from Berea, where I am staying with my uncle and his wife. What they did instead was to deduct the transport money from the agreed salary, so I would end up getting R1,800. If I didnâ€
I am now working as a shopkeeper at a spaza shop and I get R2,500 with transport money â€“ which is not bad. But I have to send about R1,800 to R2,000 to my home in Zimbabwe.
The purpose of me coming to this country is so that I can make money â€“ not spend it all. But I always end up with barely enough and I can never do nice things for myself. I donâ€
I just want to go to school, you know. And become a better me. I sometimes look at South Africans and think they donâ€
I wish things were that black and white for some of us.