Undocumented immigrants left out of vaccination programme

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  • People living in South Africa, but who are undocumented, are not able to register with the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
  • While they see many of their South African friends being vaccinated around them, they have been left out.
  • A community leader in Limpopo says he supports vaccinating the undocumented Mozambican immigrants in his village near Makhado.

As South Africa extends its Covid-19 vaccination programme to the 35- to 49-year-old age group, many undocumented immigrants over the age of 50 and 60, including homeless South Africans, still find themselves left out.

Popo Maja, spokesperson for the national Department of Health, said: "The Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) only accepts documented foreigners. The Department of Home Affairs has to assist these people if they are to be vaccinated.

"We are very much aware that there is a black market of these Covid-19 vaccines, and as government we must know who has gone through our system," added Maja.

Among those left out are about 20 undocumented Mozambicans over the age of 50 living in Magulule village, according to Thompson Mahlaule, a community leader in Makhado, Limpopo. They are willing to be vaccinated, but cannot register since none of them are documented.

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Mahlaule said government should vaccinate undocumented immigrants for the health of the community.

"We shop at same stores, our children play and go to schools with children of these migrants, and as a community this [being left out] will be a challenge to us."

Bertinah Chauke, 59, is keen to be vaccinated agai
Bertinah Chauke, 59, is keen to be vaccinated against Covid-19, but without documentation she cannot register on the EVDS system. She has lived in South Africa since 1989 and has been struggling to get documented.

Julius Macamo, 74, is partially blind and lives alone with a small dog.

"I should have been vaccinated already since my other South African friends of my age have been vaccinated. No one is informing us what we should do to get the jabs. We really are part of this community. I have been living in Magulule since 1985," said Macamo.

Annah Ngobeni came to South Africa in 2002 and has been struggling to legalise her status. Her husband who came to the country in 1987 is documented.

"I have visited our local Home Affairs several times in vain trying to be documented," said Ngobeni.

READ | Want to convince Covid vaccine sceptics to get the shot? Highlight effectiveness, researchers say

Most of the undocumented Mozambicans GroundUp spoke to said they were sent from one Home Affairs office to the next until they gave up. Some said they had no transport money to make the journey to the offices.

Rehad Desai, a member of the C19 People's Coalition, campaigning for Covid-19 vaccinations, said: "The government says it needs to protect the vulnerable and one of the most vulnerable communities are people who do not have IDs. As C19 People's Coalition we see no plan or commitment in the government for vaccinating these vulnerables."

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