Deported brothers: Why we are South Africans and not Swazis
14/12/2014 03:00:00 BY WELCOME DLAMINI Swazi Observer
As the fallout between Swaziland and South Africa over forced deportations unfolds, the two victims of such repatriations have given a record of why they insist that they are South Africans and not Swazis.
Muzi Mavuso, 34, and his 32-year old brother Themba Mavuso have now been in Swaziland for over two months and are still fighting for their return to South Africa where their family resides.
The South African government, through the department of home affairs insists that they are Swazis and therefore illegal immigrants in South Africa hence they were deported into the kingdom.
Explaining their roots to the Sunday Observer, the two brothers did not deny that they were born in Swaziland but said their father Absalom Ndleleni Mavuso was born in Berbice, Mpumalanga, South Africa.
“During the time of apartheid in South Africa, he used to work in a white-owned farm but was abused by the owners hence he decided to run away and cross into Swaziland. In Swaziland, he stayed at Makhosini in Nhlangano when it was known as Goedgegun. He then moved from Nhlangano to Manzini and stayed at Murray Camp after he heard that the farm owner he worked for in Berbice was still after him,” the brothers said.
They said he stayed at Murray Camp until he met their mother in Matsapha with whom he established a love relationship.
“Our mother, Anna Gama, is also South African having been born in Lochiel, Mpumalanga, South Africa. She had moved from South Africa and first settled at Oshoek but her family was evicted there and they found themselves having to move into Swaziland,” the siblings related.
They said after their parents met, they moved together to stay at Murray Camp where they stayed and in 1980 Muzi was born.
“They named me Muzi as a symbol that they had established a home in Swaziland after running away from their homes in South Africa because of the apartheid government.
“The other name that was given to me in 1994 was that of Zwelithini which stemmed from the independence gained by South Africa and through which they questioning what South Africa was saying after attaining freedom after long years of suffering,” Muzi elucidated. In September 1982, Themba was born and, according to him, the name was derived from biblical book of Proverbs chapter three verses five to seven.
These verses state that “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil”.
“I was also named Mkhululi after Swaziland had completed the mourning period of the King Sobhuza II,” Themba said.
The siblings said they were both born at the Raleigh Fitkin Memorial Hospital in Manzini.
Muzi said he began his education at Manzini Practising Primary School and still remembers that the principal there was one Mrs. Mahlalela.
Themba, on the other hand, said he began schooling at St. Pauls Primary which at the time was headed by one Mr. Bhembe.
“Our family used to worship at the Church of Christ at Zakhele but then moved to what is now known as the Mavuso Exhibition Centre at Fairview,” the siblings said.
They said they had to move to South Africa after the end of the apartheid rule and their parents felt it was safe to return to their country of origin.
“We have never hidden the fact that we were born in Swaziland but our parents are both South African hence they moved back into the Republic with us.
There are many other children who faced a situation similar to ours. Their parents also moved back to South Africa with them after independence. The department of home affairs, specifically Advocate Amanda Ledwaba is well aware of this information as we did not hide it from them when they interviewed us when we discovered that we had been classified as illegal immigrants. Even our late father was buried in South Africa because he is South African. How then can we belong to another country and our parents also belong to another one,” the siblings wondered.
‘SA must prove they are Swazis’
The deportation of the two Mavuso brothers from South Africa to Swaziland is now being handled by Minister of Home Affairs Princess Tsandzile who wants the neighbouring Republic to show proof why the duo is said to be Swazis.
The siblings have sought the intervention of the minister who gave them an audience on Thursday where they presented their case. It has also transpired that the minister met with senior officials from the South African High Commission to Swaziland earlier in the week where she sought to know the reason(s) behind the brothers’ deportation into the kingdom.
Further, she has engaged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation from whom he sought assistance in communicating with the South African government.
Speaking to the Sunday Observer, the minister described the situation as ‘terrible’ and ‘very confusing’.
“This is terrible and these children are now our burden. I am waiting for proof from South Africa on why they say that these boys are Swazis. The boys maintain that they came into Swaziland illegally but South Africa insists that they opted to walk into Swaziland. I have spoken to the High Commission to ascertain why they pushed these boys into Swaziland and I am yet to get a response. The ministry of foreign affairs has also written to the South African government and they too are still waiting for a response,” said the minister who sounded extremely worried about the situation. Asked on what this could mean in the diplomatic relations between the two countries, the minister said that would depend on how the matter is handled by both governments. “South Africa simply has to prove why they insist that the boys are Swazis. We are waiting for that feedback,” she reiterated. The minister said she had also been made aware that the mother of the Mavuso boys is also being threatened with deportation to Swaziland, a situation she promised to monitor closely.
Mother’s plea: help bring back my children
Anna Gama – the mother of the two Mavuso brothers – says she has lost sleep ever since her children were deported from South Africa to Swaziland.
She has appealed to both the Swaziland and South African governments to assist in taking the boys back to the neighbouring Republic.
“I appeal to everyone concerned to help in bringing my children back home here in South Africa. My children are South Africans because their father was born here and so was I. Their father’s grave is also here in South Africa. Please let my children return home. As of now I don’t know what they eat, wear and where they sleep because they have no home in Swaziland,” she pleaded.
She said her hopes were mostly on the Swaziland government where the children’s uncle was called to submit papers and give evidence that the siblings were indeed South African citizens.
“Their sin now is that they were born in Swaziland. But that was because me and their father were forced into Swaziland because of what was happening here in South Africa during the apartheid rule,” the mother said.
She too said she had been visited at least three times by South African immigration officials who wanted to deport her to Swaziland but she resisted and told them that she would rather die than have that happen. “What would I return to Swaziland for? I don’t have a home there. I am South Africa, having been born at Lochiel. This whole thing is really frustrating and I don’t know what to do,” she complained. Her sister Thulina also corroborated her version and reiterated that Themba and Muzi were South Africans. “Yes they were born in Swaziland but their father was South African and he took them with him when he returned to his country. I don’t understand what the fuss is all about,” she said.
Deported brothers: Why we are South Africans and not Swazis