"You can't just step from one place to another": The socio-politics of illegality in migration from Zimbabwe to South Africa
Drawing on anthropological fieldwork conducted in Musina and Cape Town, South Africa in 2010 and 2011, in this paper I present a qualitative analysis of the (largely illegal) means of entry of Zimbabwean research participants into South Africa, and their attempts to seek legal status once in the country. I present an ethnographic consideration of one woman’s experiences crossing the border, augmented with quantitative data gathered from a sample of 45 migrants, in order to discuss the socio-political construction of ‘illegality’ in South Africa. I argue that while migrants may have entered the country illegally, this was in a large degree dictated by structural pressures. Migrants’ attempts to legalise themselves are also structurally constrained: I, thus, argue that there is a need to unpack the socio-political process by which a category of illegality is made.
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