South Africa: Pandemic and Xenophobia - the Plight of Migrants in SA


Away from home, migrants in South Africa have been hard hit by the impact of Covid-19 and a resurgence of xenophobia.

Chioma Umeh, who comes from Nigeria, runs a tuck shop in Hillbrow, Johannesburg. Every day, she leaves home by 8am and heads to her shop, which is less than 15 minutes away, to start the business of the day.

Umeh said her business has suffered great losses since the pandemic hit South Africa in 2020. In March, the country announced a National State of Disaster in terms of the Disaster Management Act.

Hillbrow is popular among the migrant community in Johannesburg. (Photo: Patrick Egwu)

"It affected everything about my business, especially my family," Umeh said. "It really affected us in such a way that things became very difficult, especially as a businesswoman. I couldn't go out to do business, my kids couldn't go to school, and my husband couldn't do his business. We just had to limit the way we spend."

Umeh, who has four children, moved to South Africa in 2012 to join her husband, who runs a currency exchange service.

"We didn't receive anything," she said when asked about government relief intervention during the lockdown. "But some...

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