A recent report found in The Standard Newspaper, tells the heart warming story of two brave pastors in the Makokoba suburb of Bulawayo defied the odds by standing up to immigration officials who were attempting detain and deport Congolese refugees. The refugees had been staying in the church in after fleeing political violence in their country.The African Methodist Episcopal Church in Zimbabwe (AMECZ) was home to 26 Congolese who had fled political turmoil in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). All the refugees said that they that they had illegally entered the country.
Reverend Amon Mthombeni of AMECZ confirmed the incident and revealed the details behind the refugees arrival. He said that
the refugees (including 16 minors) arrived in the country a fortnight ago stayed for three days at the Amakhosi Cultural Centre before moving to the AMECZ where they were being taken care of by charitable organisations. Rev Mthombeni reportedly said, “There is no way the church could have allowed them to do such a cruel thing. We told them to instead either shoot or arrest us for taking care of these people who are fleeing their country.”
According to the report efforts to get a comment from assistant regional immigration officer for southern Region, Francis Mabika, were fruitless last week. Fearing the immigration would return, Rev Mthombeni said the church arranged with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to have the refugees to Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge, Manicaland. Attempts to get a comment from the UNHCR were also unsuccessful.