In the first six months of this year, 1,418 sons and daughters of Zimbabwe have returned home from South Africa inside lidded caskets. Many of them met a violent end. In June alone, the bodies of 320 Zimbabweans returned through the Beitbridge border post. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Despite the African conviction of wanting to be ‘reunited in death with the soil where one’s umbilical cord is buried,’ some are interred in foreign lands.
For some families, the high cost of transporting a corpse precludes sentimentality – it costs between R10,000 and R23,000. For many migrants, the journey to Mzansi is not without risk; thieves, rapists and human traffickers lie in wait. To be a black foreigner in South Africa is like walking around with a bulls’ eye painted on one’s back.
In 2010, there were rumours that the President’s daughter, Bona, was molested at a party in Singapore. If Bona were at a local university, there is no way any man harasses her, even if she went about un-chaperoned. Even Zanele, who was found dead in her bathroom, with a gash on her head, would probably have been safer back home.