PRESS STATEMENT: Screening of In Another Prison? Migrants in Johannesburg

Friday, 29 November 2019



The Jesuit Institute South Africa in collaboration with Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) invites you to the screening of In Another Prison? Migrants in Johannesburg on Tuesday 10 December 2019 at 18h30, to commemorate the United Nations Human Rights Day.  

In the short documentary several migrants tell their stories. Many of them fled their own countries in fear of their lives. Some have lost contact with any family members and struggle to rebuild their lives in the inner City of Johannesburg ­– a harsh and unwelcoming place where the struggle for survival is real.

The documentary was shot in the midst of the recent xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg. It reveals how migration is not being well managed in the City. Diego Iturralde, Chief Demographer at STATS SA, says that migration is not necessarily a problem to be solved but an opportunity that needs to be managed.

The Archbishop of Johannesburg and Chair of the Department for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Buti Tlhagale OMI, says the migrants and refugees come to the Church in South Africa bringing the reality of diversity that enrich the local African Church. He says that this is unfortunately marred by xenophobia.

The documentary, directed by Sr Katleho Khang SNJM, shows how migrants struggle materially and psychologically to make sense of their lives. With little support, many of them are living with the traumatic experiences of violence and rape. In the film migrants explain how they have been retraumatised by ongoing discrimination and xenophobia.

Fr Tom Smolich SJ, international director of JRS, laments how, across the world xenophobia is being used as a form of scapegoating. He says that this is exacerbated by poor leadership which has led to poor economic opportunities for many people. Smolich says that political leaders have realised that they can take advantage of the situation, for their own gain, by fuelling the flames of xenophobia.

Archbishop Tlhagale says that South Africans often use migrants as an excuse for the shortcomings of their own society, municipality and government. He says that the Church must offer them material and spiritual support and that he hopes that every Catholic parish would ensure they have a desk for migrants and refugees.

“You cannot not be moved by young people, strong, who could be making a contribution and yet are PRISONERS of their own situation, not of their own making, but of society,” Tlhagale says.

The screening of the documentary takes place on Tuesday 10 December at 18h30 at the Jesuit Institute South Africa, 15 Molesey Ave, Auckland Park. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion. Light refreshments will be served. All are welcome to attend.


For more information:

Fr Russell Pollitt, SJ
Director Jesuit Institute South Africa
+27 11 482 4237 or +27 82 737 2054

Jesuit Institute Spokesperson
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