JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – A group known as Operation Dudula has been accused of chasing away immigrants from the Jeppe Clinic in central Johannesburg, preventing them from receiving medical treatment. The group has previously targeted immigrants at clinics in Gauteng, including Hillbrow and Kalafong in Tshwane.
Wema Musa, an immigrant from Malawi who is eight months pregnant, reported that she was told by members of Operation Dudula to return to her country and give birth there. Musa, who relies on her husband for support and translation, desperately needs to attend the clinic for the sake of her unborn child.
Violet Ncube, an immigrant from Zimbabwe, reported that she and her three-year-old granddaughter were ordered out of the clinic last Friday when the child was suffering from flu and a fever. Ncube stated that some people were even assaulted by members of the group.
“Accessing medical care for us immigrants is no longer easy because Dudula shows up at the clinic,” said Ncube. “It’s as if they have people who call them when migrants come into the clinic, alerting them to come and chase people away.”
Ethel Musonza, from Zimbabwe Isolated Women in South Africa (ZIWISA), confirmed that Operation Dudula was turning people away from the Jeppe Clinic. She reported that immigrants suffering from chronic illnesses such as HIV, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses are unable to access medication since Dudula started targeting them in clinics.
Claire Ceruti from Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia (KAAX) said, “Chasing people away from healthcare on the basis of their nationality is completely inhuman, unfair and illegal. The law is clear that everyone has the right to healthcare whether or not they have papers. It is disgusting for anyone to be denying people who are already vulnerable access to healthcare.”
The provincial department of health has stated that it is not aware of the actions of Operation Dudula and is investigating the matter.