PASSOP recognizes exemplary humanitarian work and appoints new Ambassador

PASSOP Appoints New Ambassador: Cynthia Sonxi

When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it your family? Your job? For most of us, we think of ourselves before we think of anything else.

This cannot be said for Cynthia Sonxi. When she wakes up, her first thought concerns others, what they need and how she can help them. Every day, she goes around her community in Khayelitsha, helping the old, the sick and the crippled without thinking twice. When the local soup kitchen she helped at was demolished, she opened her own home to house the new soup kitchen.

We first encountered Cynthia several weeks ago when we learned of her fostering a down-and-out Ugandan man, Sseskamatte, who she found aimlessly wandering on the side of the road. We helped repatriate Sseskamatte to his family in Uganda since then (for the story in last month’s newsletter, click here). We now found out that Sseskamatte was just one of several desperate people that Cynthia has taken into her home. The story below is about Peter, a former soldier for the apartheid regime who found himself languishing without money or support, homeless in Khayelitsha, until Cynthia took him in two months ago. She fed and clothed him and gave him a new hope for life.

Cynthia continually offers her home to those who have none and expects nothing in return, although she is unemployed herself. The term selfless does not do justice to the limitless charity provided by Cynthia and her actions. On Monday September 12th, PASSOP recognized Cynthia’s noble actions and humanitarian work by making her a PASSOP Ambassador. Her unwavering commitment to charity and helping the less fortunate, regardless of race or nationality, should be held high as an example of what modern South Africa should aim towards.

Cynthia Sonxi: Helping others every day

We recently wrote a story in our newsletter about Cynthia Sonxi, the selfless woman who helped Ssekamatte Charles, a lost Ugandan immigrant.  As incredible as the story was, it turns out to be nothing out of the ordinary for Cynthia, as she has assisted yet another man in dire need.  This time, she introduced us to Peter, a white former soldier for the apartheid regime who recently found himself in Cape Town devoid of money, support, or any hope of an improved life.  That was until he was introduced to Cynthia who accepted him, welcomed him into her home, and provided him with much needed food and shelter.

Cynthia herself hails from Khamastone in Wittlesea, originally, but made her way to Cape Town in 1984. In 1986, she settled in Khayelitsha and quickly found work as a nursing assistant, where she gained crucial knowledge that would affect her work later in life. A few years later, she became a caregiver for a child in Constantia.  Later, she learned that she developed diabetes that left her unable to work.  Confined to her home, she became involved with the Joshua Generation Church based in Khayelitsha that focuses primarily on charitable work in the community. The group helps those who are sick or in need of assistance, washing them, cleaning them, and tidying their homes with the assistance of the Church pastor.

Cynthia’s also worked with the church through an organization called Home of Hope. The founder approached many women in Khayelitsha, asking them to provide assistance to those who are affected by HIV/AIDS and have no one to care for them. Immediately, Cynthia knew that she could apply those valuable skills she learned working as a nursing assistant. In addition, the group looks after the elderly, orphaned and mentally retarded who have no one to care for them.

But why would Cynthia give so much of herself? She attributes her willingness to help others so readily to her upbringing, especially the adults in her childhood who took orphans into their homes without question. Cynthia was raised with other children, who she thought were family, but later realized weren’t blood related. Through this, she was ingrained with the idea that we are all part of a human family and we must be willing to make sacrifices all look after one another.

While we were impressed by her kind heart when she first helped Sesskamatte, her charity astounded us when she was just as generous in helping Peter, a white man whose life had recently taken a sharp turn for the worse. The lasting effects of serving in the military combined with losing his family through divorce had left Peter in a precarious position; he was in Cape Town with no money, no family, and no friends.

After divorcing his wife in Durban, Peter decided he should travel to Cape Town, a city that he had loved while growing up. In 1997, he moved in with his father in Woodstock and found a job in the hospitality industry.  The fast-paced work environment got Peter got involved in an unhealthy, reckless lifestyle.  This new lifestyle quickly became overwhelming, and he eventually moved to Pretoria where he was promised a job.  The job ended up being a scam, resulting in him getting evicted from his home and back in Cape Town with a mere R50 in his pocket.  He contacted an old acquaintance in Khayletisha who initially agreed to help him until he sorted his life out. Instead, this relationship crumbled, leaving Peter back on the streets.

At this point in Peter’s life, he was very sick, suffering from debilitating stomach ulcers. Eventually, he met a woman who relayed his story to her Ward Counsellor who in turn contacted Cynthia.  Without hesitation, Cynthia welcomed him into her home, connected him with her church, and gave him a new outlook on life.

Since their first meeting a month and a half ago, Peter’s life has drastically improved thanks to the kindness of Cynthia. She has provided him with a positive approach to his future, motivating him to follow in her charitable footsteps.  Observing Cynthia and Peter together, you can see the beautiful relationship between them. When we presented Cynthia with an award for her exemplary humanitarian work and Peter was asked to speak, tears came to his eyes as he expressed how fortunate he was to meet Cynthia and all the goodness she had introduced into his life. “We walk around in society today and people don’t want to get involved in other people’s hardships. So when you do come across people like Cynthia, you regain hope in mankind.” She gave Peter the will to continue to live, something he had lost in his grueling journey to the heart of Khayletisha.

To Cynthia the colour of one’s skin is irrelevant. We live in the new South Africa that is need of continued progress towards the abolition of racial classifications and racial segregation. She herself is a black woman who lived during the apartheid era, but she doesn’t let oppressive histories dictate whom she helps.

Peter understands the problems that the apartheid era brought to Africans and is thankful that Cynthia doesn’t allow past wrongs to restrict her charity.  In reality, South Africa is still crippled by inequality and the scars of apartheid and all too often we fail to see the ‘Rainbow Nation’ that role models like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu inspire us to dream about. But it is people like Cynthia, whose quiet acts of kindness not only save lives of individuals, but also brings this dream of a Rainbow Nation in peace with itself a little bit closer to reality.

Zimbabwean Permits Ready for Collection in Cape Town

List of permits that are ready to be collected!

There are currently hundreds of permits that are ready for collection at the DHA Offices in Bellville (Boston House on Vortrekker Road). Below is a list of names of people who should go to Bellville to pick up their permits as soon as possible! If you have any questions, please call 021 762 0322. For more information on the ZDP, click here.

(The table below is organised by alphabetical order of surnames. Scroll down to search for names. An example of a reference number is WYN184/2010/DZP.)

 

Acid attack victim turns to social media

Susan* is the Zimbabwean woman who has withheld her name for the time being because she has yet to tell her family of the horrific attack she incurred and also fears for her safety as the attack is still being investigated. She has made the decision to open a Facebook account and twitter account in an attempt to share her views and experiences as well as attempting to raise funds for her important surgeries. She encourages people to add her on Facebook – Susan Forgives and to follow her on Twitter- @SusanForgives. Please send her messages of support- She has been through a terrible attack in Cape Town where randomly a man threw acid into her face in a mini-taxi on her way home from work. She is now trying rebuild her life and to raise the money for facial reconstruction. About R 450 000 is needed to complete all the surgeries. Should she raise the funds she will still have to endure many traumatic operations and about 4 years of rehabilitation. Although she has forgiven the perpetrator she still has to identify the suspect and assist in the criminal investigations ahead– mainly she wants to know why this happened- so she can rebuild her life.

For comment please contact her on Facebook or Twitter- or phone her spokesperson/friend/employer Dr Parker on 0769547448

August Newsletter Now Available!

The latest edition of PASSOP Watch is now available here. It includes stories on the recent police settlement with PASSOP’s Director, an update on the Zimbabwean Dispensation Project, a new report on the link between mass deportation and xenophobia, the implications of a changing SA immigration policy, the Somalia Famine Relief event, refugee stories and humanitarian aid cases, and more.

Press Statement: Acid attack woman to speak to media

PRESS STATEMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The young Zimbabwean woman who suffered serious facial injuries after being attacked with acid on a mini-bus has agreed to speak at a press conference tonight in order to make an important announcement to the public. She will be joined by the Doctor who has set up a fund to support the expensive reconstructive surgery she needs, as well as representatives from PASSOP and COSATU.

The press conference will be held at IDASA House, 6 Spin street, this evening (September 7, 2011) at 6:30pm. We invite the media to attend.

For more information please Arafat 0721554147 or Dr Parker 0769547448

Swaziland Independence Day Protest

Swaziland Independence Day Protest

Swaziland Democracy Campaign -Western Cape Chapter

The South African government has sent less that 20 million rand to help those starving in the Horn of Africa and yet it is willing to grant a R2.4 billion loan to Swaziland’s corrupt regime of King Mswati. This loan will only sustain an unsustainable system and perpetuate the continued oppression and suffering of the people of Swaziland. We should only allow the South African government to release the money after the un-banning of political parties and unions, a commitment to free and fair elections for a democratic multi-party state, the freeing of media and the decentralisation of the economy from the monarch.

Sadly on a day when we should be celebrating the independence of the people of Swaziland we chose to protest against an unelected leader, an absolute monarch that controls the country as his private fiefdom and who has failed his people. We protested to demand that the South African government stop meddling with Swaziland’s affairs and that it consider sending more aid directly to the people of Africa in need and less to corrupt and autocratic leaders.

Our protest action against the government loan to Swaziland’s monarchy took place on Tuesday 6th September. It was attended by over 50 people and covered in the media. We handed over a morandum to the representative of the parliamentary committee international relations at the gates of parliament. To view the memorandum, click here.

Distribution of ZDP permits continues

Distribution of Zimbabwean permits continue

PASSOP would like to inform Zimbabweans that the distribution of permits applied for under the Zimbabwean Dispensation Project continues. We call for further patience from relevant stakeholders around South Africa.

We wish to inform all Zimbabweans who are awaiting their permits that the process is still underway at the regional Department of Home Affairs (DHA) offices across the country. It appears that the department will continue, “until the process is complete”. The DHA continues to send SMSs to Zimbabweans who need to submit their fingerprints and to those whose permits are ready for collection. There are also many Zimbabweans who are presenting themselves (to the DHA offices where they applied) to submit outstanding documents such as proof of employment letters, copies of Zimbabwean passports etc, to support their applications. We are aware that there remain thousands of people still waiting for SMSs, who should in due course receive smses to submit fingerprints and later SMSs to collect their permits.

We remain concerned that some Zimbabweans have not yet received their passports from the Zimbabwean Consulate.  The DHA will take fingerprints of anyone who does not have their passports. We are also worried that employers and banks are getting anxious with the prolonged finalization of the issuing and distribution of the ZDP permits. Nevertheless, it remains unclear exactly when they will complete the distribution of permits, however it appears that the Department of Home Affairs will not “shut or stop” the project until everyone who submitted their application is given a fair chance to collect their permits.

We urge employers not to unlawfully dismiss Zimbabwean employees who are still waiting for their permits, banks not to ‘freeze’ bank accounts of their Zimbabwean clients and educational institutions not to de-register students while the Department continues to work on their applications. We also advise employers to give their Zimbabwean employees time to come to the Department when they receive SMSs to complete the process and to follow up on their applications. Those who receive notification that their outcome is ready for collection should also go as soon as possible to collect their results to ensure that the process is concluded. For more on the latest information regarding fingerprints, SMSs, etc., click here.

New ZDP Announcements

Important ZDP announcements:

During the past two weeks, a large number of Zimbabweans have been coming to the DHA office at Bellville for their fingerprints to be taken. They are still taking fingerprints of those who have received SMSs to come do so. Please take note of the following:

  1. If you receive an SMS instructing you to come for fingerprints while you are in Cape Town, even if you submitted your application in Paarl, George, or any other DHA centre in South Africa, you can come to DHA Bellville. They will take your fingerprints. You don’t have to travel all the way to the other two DHA offices for your fingerprints to be taken.
  2. If you cannot receive SMSs because you lost your phone or any other reason, and you are not sure whether your SMS was sent or not, do not hesitate to come forward and ask at DHA Bellville. They will check for you on their system.
  3. There are more than 450 uncollected permits at DHA Bellville. If you applied before 15th December 2010, you should come and check if your permit is ready for collection.
If you have any questions or want clarification, please do not hesitate to contact our office at 021 762 0322 or office@passop.co.za 

Press Statement: SAPS settles on Braam Hanekom Court Case

Press Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PASSOP welcomes the closure brought by the settlement offered by the South African Police Service and accepted by Braam Hanekom While helping asylum seekers obtain documentation lawfully, Braam Hanekom suffered targeted and unlawful arrests in January 2008. He immediately embarked on legal action against the police as he believed that his rights were violated in a traumatic way, and that he had suffered damage to his reputation. The two arrests were on the 8th and 9th of January, they were reported by the Cape Times and Cape Argus (articles below). His matter was to finally be heard in the high court today, however half an hour before court proceedings the state offered a settlement which included full payment of all his legal costs (high court) and payment of an undisclosed amount of money. We hope that police officers will realise that reckless behavior on their part will not go unchallenged by members of the public. We welcome the settlement as we were confident in his case and during litigation the legal costs would have escalated. These costs are ultimately paid for by citizen and immigrant tax payers and would amount to an additional hundreds of thousand of rand being wasted, so a settlement is welcomed. Braam Hanekom has undertaken to donate every cent of his payout to human rights work, not only through PASSOP but also through other local organisations. For Comment contact Doug Leresche 0797127341