Struggling Zimbabwean author writes about the challenges of living and dying on the Cape Flats

Tariro Washinyira
Milton Jaure is struggling to publish his work. Photo Tariro Washinyira.
Tariro Washinyira

39-year-old Zimbabwean Milton Jaure, also known as Rasmijah, is struggling to get financial support to publish his book of short stories and produce a documentary focusing on the challenges foreigners face when their loved ones die in South Africa.

Jaure says dying in a foreign country is a sensitive subject for him, because in the past three years, he experienced the logistic difficulties when his nephew was murdered and his niece died. He said gathering money to repatriate the body to Zimbabwe was very hard. Immigrants who would like to conduct the funeral in South Africa also face lots of challenges, especially if the deceased is undocumented.

One of his short stories was published in City Vision community newspaper on 11 June 2009.

Jaure says, his story, A day in the Cape Flats, “reflects the day to day experiences of foreigners living in Cape Town. The story helps people in Zimbabwe to understand the agony of being in a foreign land.”

When immigrants arrive in Cape Town, they mostly live in the Cape flats because rent is cheap.

In the story, he explains that the Cape Flats stretches from Elsies River to Mitchells Plain and from Athlone to Khayelitsha. Many people live in makeshift houses in informal settlements. In most of these informal residential areas, there are no proper roads, toilets or drinking water.

The story tells of Jaure’s experience in a shebeen when he first arrived. People were doing tik, some doing buttons, some rocking marijuana, while a set of three were busy injecting themselves in the toilet. A teenage girl is raped by a man who was released from Pollsmoor prison the previous week. A school boy is selling a pistol with an extra round of ammunition for about R120. Then a drug merchant arrives.

“My hands were now shaking in response to my whole body that was now trembling in fear,” writes Jaure.

Jaure says, “My biggest challenge is publishing my work. So far I have contacted two publishing companies to no avail. Author House UK agreed to publish my work if I manage to pay 15000 pounds. New Africa books could do it for me at no cost but they can only publish two books per year. The waiting list is a long one.”

“Cape Town Television provided me with an open studio for my integration and cultural exchange programme, but I did not succeed because I need two women aged 60 years, a South African and Zimbabwean, to support the theme.”

“It is difficult to convince people to do it for free because they think I am profiteering, yet I am also struggling. They would rather do something productive to put bread and butter on their tables. Others believe if they help me I will become a celebrity and get all the glory.”

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TOPICS:  Immigration Society

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