Slice Of Life: ​'It's hard to come here, it's not easy'

James Mtonga moved to South Africa, having only just enough money to pay for the bus fare. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

James Mtonga moved to South Africa, having only just enough money to pay for the bus fare. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

It was 2009 when I decided to come here. I went to the bus station and bought a ticket. It was a Wednesday, at around six. Everyone was on the bus and we started our journey. The bus is taking 80 people. Our journey was not good, we spent six days on the way here.

From Malawi to Mozambique, two borders. From Mozambique to Zimbabwe, two borders again and then to South Africa. Everywhere you have to stamp your passports and the queues are very big and you have to wait. You stop there for two days sometimes.

On the bus I was bored because there was nothing to do and there was nothing to eat. You just have money for transport sometimes and not for food. Maybe you bring some food but it can’t last the whole journey. Some of us had money so we were sharing with other people.

We used to buy bread because bread can last five, six days but you can’t eat bread every day so we ended up just drinking colddrink the whole time, not real food. Coke and Fanta, and the drinks were hot too, but we didn’t have food so we just drank them hot.

It was not good because it was so boring and everyone was so exhausted. You know when you’re exhausted and tired you forget everything and end up sleeping. And then you wake up and someone is searching you, trying to take your money. So you try not to sleep.

It was summer, everyone was sweating and we had nowhere to bathe. I’ll never forget that journey. But when I got here I was happy because I achieved my goal. I didn’t mind that I was tired and dirty and hungry.

It was six difficult days. My wife’s journey was twelve. – James Mtonga, 34, as told to Refiloe Seiboko

 

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