A top achiever in the 2019 National Senior Certificate examinations in the North West may not get to university for lack of funds.
Triphin Mudzvengi, 18, obtained distinctions in seven subjects but her parents are battling to raise her tuition fees to study at Wits University. Mudzvengi’s father is a part-time bricklayer and her mother is a domestic worker.
Mudzvengi is Zimbabwean and does not qualify for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding because she is a foreigner. She came to South Africa with her parents in 2010. She hoped to study civil engineering at Wits, where the annual tuition fee is R149,370. Though she qualifies for a R15,000 bursary as a top performer, the university demands 75% of the fee upfront before she registers.
Mudzvengi cannot approach the Zimbabwean embassy for any assistance either, because the Refugees Amendment Act forbids refugees and asylum seekers to visit, seek aid or communicate with their governments.
Chris Mapingure, chairman of the Zimbabwe Migrants Support Network, said he had hoped to convince the Zimbabwean embassy to help Mudzvengi, but the Refugees Amendment Act made that impossible.
“We don’t agree with the Refugees Amendment Act because it exposes refugees and asylum seekers to poverty. We want this girl to attend university. This benefits not only her but the entire world,” said Mapingure.
The Refugees Amendment Act was signed into law by President Cyril Ramaphosa on January 1.
According to the act, refugee status ceases if a refugee seeks consular services at a diplomatic mission from his or her country of origin or nationality. The act also states that the refugee cannot apply for any official document from his or her country’s embassy or ask for any assistance from that embassy or its institutions
REFUGEES ACT NO. 130/1998
Cessation of refugee status
4. (1) The circumstances as contemplated in section 5(1)(a) of the Act in terms of which a person
may be deemed to have re-availed himself or herself of the protection of the country of his or her
origin, nationality or residence shall, amongst others, relate to where such person voluntarily―
(a) seeks consular services at any diplomatic mission representing his or her country of origin
(b) applies for any assistance or official document, such as a travel document or citizenship
related document, at any diplomatic mission representing his or her country of origin or
nationality whether in the Republic or any other country;
(c) avails himself or herself of any assistance of any State official or State institution
associated with or in his or her country of origin or nationality;
(d) presents himself or herself on the premises of any diplomatic mission representing his or
her country of origin or nationality in the Republic or in any other territory;
(e) travels abroad other than with a refugee travel document issued in terms of section 31 of
(f) applies for and receives any benefit afforded to citizens of his or her country of nationality;
(g) stands for political office or votes in any election in respect of his or her country of
nationality, without the approval of the Minister
(h) whether through a port of entry of or irregularly enters the territory of his or her country of
origin or nationality or countries where he or she previously resided prior to entering the
Republic to apply for asylum or takes measures or prepares to do so;
(i) participates in any political campaign or activity related to his or her country of origin or
nationality whilst in the Republic without the permission of the Minister; or
(j) travels abroad in violation of the conditions endorsed on his or her refugee travel
(2) No refugee or asylum seeker may participate in any political activity or campaign in furtherance
of any political party or political interests in the Republic.
(3) The Standing Committee may withdraw the refugee status of any person who participated in any
political activity or campaign in furtherance of any political party or political interests in the Republic,
or who has been found to have acted as contemplated in subregulation (1).
(4) Any person whose refugee status has been withdrawn shall be dealt with as an illegal foreigner
in terms of the provisions of the Immigration Act.
Find the full SA Refugees Act here;