A single dad-of-two living in Swansea has said that he is “stuck in limbo” with nowhere to turn after having his asylum claim rejected by the Home Office.
Eugene Calitz, 50, first came to Swansea from South Africa back in 2018 with his two teenage children after fleeing what he claims is violent so-called ‘reverse racism’ in the country.
Eugene said that there is “nothing left” for them in South Africa and after having their asylum claims rejected they have been advised to simply “wait” until further notice of their removal.
From 1948 until the 1990s South Africa was ruled by a violent anti-Black apartheid that left Black Africans severely disadvantaged – unable to buy their own homes, unable to access decent education, and unable to access proper health care.
For decades Black residents were even forced to carry an identity pass that was designed to restrict their freedom of movement and segregate them from the white population.
Eugene claims that today the situation has started to reverse. He said: “If you’re white in South Africa there’s nothing there for you. You can’t get a job, you’re at the back of the line in pretty much every aspect. If you do have a job, you’d better hold on to it, because you won’t get another. It’s a scary place to live because violence against white people is encouraged – there are songs about it: ‘Kill the Boer, kill the farmer’, or ‘One settler, one bullet’.
“I understand the history of apartheid and I am in no way racist. I love to live among people of all colours, all creeds, but in South Africa if you’re white you are not protected. Farmers are murdered all the time and nothing is done about it.
“In the late 90s I was shot. It was a completely unprovoked attack which I believe was racially motivated. Thankfully the bullet only hit the flesh in my leg rather than the bone.
“Not long after I received threats from a man who had threatened to shoot me in the face. I reported it to the police and they literally said: ‘Come back once it happens’. Nobody should be forced to live in constant fear like that. It’s like going back in time.”
Eugene came to the UK because he already had family here. His grandmother is a British citizen and he has two young grandchildren who are also British citizens. However, because Eugene cannot afford to pay the expensive visa or solicitor fees, he claims the family ties make no difference.
He said: “My 22-year-old daughter now has two children with her partner who is Welsh. They were born in Swansea so their kids are British citizens. My daughter has still been rejected for asylum meaning she either has to leave the kids here with their dad or take them to South Africa, which isn’t safe. My grandmother is also a British citizen but the Home Office won’t take that into consideration unless I can spend money on a visa.
“We live on £80 a week, which comes on a prepaid card, so the government can track where and how we spend our money. How can we possibly pay for visa applications and flight tickets with this when that money barely covers our living costs?
“We are not asking for benefits of any kind, we don’t want money, we just want to have the right to live peacefully, to go out and work and pay our taxes. We want to contribute to the economy – I don’t want to be a leech sucking off the benefit system.
“Right now we aren’t allowed to work. We can’t get a driver’s licence. We can’t open a bank account. My son, who is now 18, wants to join the Army but he isn’t allowed to do that either. It’s hard for him to come to terms with the fact that he can’t do anything that his friends want to do.
“He doesn’t know what to do with himself. It’s having a terrible impact on his mental health and mine too. We can’t do much else than sit around. I haven’t been able to buy my kids or grandchildren so much as a birthday card since moving here. It kills me.
“If we get sent back home we have nothing at all to return to. No family, no money, no place to go. I am genuinely afraid that I’ll be shot again.”
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In South Africa Eugene worked as a mechanical maintenance manager and spent time working in Afghanistan for a private US security company with the American military.
He said: “I have so much experience and lots of skills that I can bring to the table. In Afghanistan I worked in security and I am trained in anti-terrorism, in maintenance management, and fire prevention. Since being in the UK I have never felt as safe and confident as I do now. In South Africa I could not let my kids out to play – they were not allowed outside the garden gate. All I am asking is for my children and grandchildren to have a better, safer future.”
A Home Office spokesman said they did not comment on individual cases but added: “All asylum applications are considered on their individual merits against up-to-date country information, the evidence available, and in line with UK immigration rules. Our new plan for immigration seeks to welcome those who come through safe and legal routes whilst preventing the abuse of the system and the criminality associated with it.”
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