Johannesburg Increases Aid to Zimbabweans in City

The Archdiocese of Johannesburg is increasing its help to Zimbabweans in the city as more cross into South Africa in the hope of finding work. Since South Africa dropped its visa requirements for Zimbabweans in early May, "the wait at the border on the South African side is said to be about nine hours," said Mariannhill Father Danisa Khumalo, who coordinates the archdiocese's ministry to Zimbabwean refugees. The archdiocese has an office in Braamfontein, a central suburb of Johannesburg, set up to help meet the needs of Zimbabweans who have fled economic collapse at home, Father Khumalo said. He said that among the services it offers is a daily soup kitchen that serves many of the 3,000 migrants who stay in Johannesburg's Central Methodist Church. Zimbabweans who come to the Braamfontein office seeking medical help are seen by a doctor, who treats minor ailments and writes referral letters to local hospitals when necessary, Father Khumalo said. "We interview people before we hand out food because we've been cheated many times" by unscrupulous visitors, the priest said, noting that the office also distributes clothes to refugees who have been robbed of their belongings. "People who come to Johannesburg with money find it soon dries up as they have to pay to eat and sleep. Then they find themselves in the cold," he said.

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