The following are extracts from interviews recorded during the Refuge project. All interviews were recorded and are transcribed with permission. Names have been changed.
wongani - zambia
For myself I [had] a family member who was already in South Africa. Either way, I called him because I have to ask: how are you trying life in South Africa? Is it better or is it…? He explained to me everything, that maybe I could try. Then I request: if I organise my transport, can I come to you? And you will accommodate me? Until I get my own job? So he did as my request. And after I get a job, I wait, cause by the moment I was having two of my kids home with my husband, I have to call my husband, then we start trip.
I came alone first.
After I got my husband, I went back to fetch my kids. They come with me. The other one came when he was…four. The other one was when she was six.
So how long were you here alone, before your children came?
It was being almost like...for two years. Because I have to look for a job. I didn’t get a proper job until I was here nine month. I was having some char days, where we were living, with my friend. Then I think it was almost a year and some months, I got my husband. Then we tried to gather, because my husband he was not working, he was depending on me, he was looking. And we took also some couple of months to get settled. I think it was like two years, before they [my children] get in.
hassan - burundi
Travelling is alone. Ja. But you just try to get as much information as you can. For, like, how you are going to reach the water, the borders to cross, safe places to go through, uh, you may have these kind of questions from emigration officers when you are applying for the asylum, be prepared for this and this. Things like that. You also search on the internet, find more information, that is helpful. See how does it work in South Africa, so before you at least travel… unfortunately, when I ended up here I couldn’t get my document for almost a year. I was not having it…when you go to Pretoria, you understand, I…you go there, you queue: from five morning until the evening. They’ll tell you that the system is low. So when they tell you the system is low, you know that, no, there is corruption. And I think just for today, they just tell the people like that because they need money.