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Zimbabwean immigrants in SA live in fear of the unknown – study finding

By Nombuso Dlamini |  IOL News |

Many Zimbabwean immigrants in South Africa have experienced or witnessed discrimination and expect to be a victim of social violence in some way in the future.

This is according to a study by Dr Rowan Madzamba of Zimbabwe, which earned him a PhD in Public Health from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

Madzamba’s research examined the prevalence of traumatic incidents experienced by Zimbabwean immigrants, and how the migration process and losses involved result in stressful psychological acculturation and behaviour change.

His study revealed that nearly every Zimbabwean immigrant in South Africa had witnessed and/or experienced discrimination and xenophobia, and still expected to encounter social violence at some time in the future. It also revealed that immigrants live in fear of the unknown, which hinders them from fully integrating into South African society.

“Language and communication barriers as well as a different interpretation of culture regarding treatment and sickness are the main challenges health professionals face when attending to migrant patients. The study further shows that the public health information and data systems which report current public health information do not address migration adequately, and there is a poor understanding of migration and health in South Africa,” said Madzamba.

“My PhD journey was exciting, challenging and an experience which needed courage and lots of emotional support.

“Growing up an orphan, I completed high school in Zimbabwe, moving to South Africa for my tertiary education.”

He said the experience of being an immigrant and a young man with no family in South Africa was a challenge. “Completing my PhD is one of the greatest achievements of my life which I believe my mother, wherever she may be, would be proud of as well. Coming to South Africa, the goal and mission was to obtain a PhD. It really was a journey of ups and downs, heartbreak and betrayal before the goal was achieved.”

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