Catholic Bishop Urges Ugandans in South Africa to Be “here legally, learn local languages”

Ugandan-born Bishop Joseph Mary Kizito of Aliwal Diocese in South Africa. Credit: Courtesy Photo

A Catholic Bishop in South Africa has called on Ugandan nationals to ensure they are living in the country legally and make every effort to integrate with natives, including learning local languages.

In an interview on the sidelines of the Feast of the Ugandan Martyrs, Ugandan-born Bishop Joseph Mary Kizito of Aliwal Diocese in South Africa encouraged Ugandans in the country to refrain from illegal activities and to keep South African laws.

“I encourage my fellow Ugandans to be here legally, and to keep the laws of this country, to learn the local languages and to be integrated, to feel welcomed,” Bishop Kizito told ACI Africa June 4 after Holy Mass at St. Anthony’s Mayfair Catholic Parish of Johannesburg Archdiocese.

The Local Ordinary of Aliwal Diocese who doubles as the Liaison Bishop for Migrants and Refugees department of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) called “on the Ugandan community not to be involved in drugs, not to be involved in things that are not keeping to the law.” 

He urged undocumented persons living in South Africa to seek assistance from the recently established migrants and refugees’ offices in the Dioceses and Parishes. 


“It’s important for our people to know that the Conference through the migrants and refugees’ office together with other agencies have been assisting undocumented nationals and non-nationals with online registration,” said Bishop Kizito.

He went on to laud efforts by his predecessor in the SACBC entity for raising awareness and advocating for the rights of migrants and refugees as far as access to documentation is concerned.

“Archbishop Buti Tlhagale together with Sr. Maria Rissini have done a great work in assisting the marginalized, the undocumented,” Bishop Kizito said, adding, “Thanks to Archbishop Tlhagale, the migrants and refugees’ office has managed to publish directories with important information to assist those in need of help.”

“I encourage all those that are undocumented to approach the migrants and refugees office for assistance with online registration,” the Bishop who has been at the helm of Aliwal Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in February 2020 said.

In the Diocese of Aliwal, the Bishop who will turn 55 next month said, “we have a good working relationship with the home affairs department, and other stakeholders.”

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“Our aim is to provide coordinated and effective response to challenges faced by undocumented migrants and refugees,” he told ACI Africa June 4.

Making reference to the 2019 World Day of Migrants and Refugees when Pope Francis identified “to welcome, protect, promote, and integrate” as the four important verbs for migration, Bishop Kizito said, “It’s important for migrants and refugees to know that the Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC) welcomes them, that we want to walk with them, to protect them.”

Addressing himself to migrants, he said, “I am calling upon them to be legal, to have the proper documentation in order to enjoy the benefits and the privileges in the republic of South Africa, but also to contribute positively to the host country.”

Sheila Pires is a veteran radio and television Mozambican journalist based in South Africa. She studied communications at the University of South Africa. She is passionate about writing on the works of the Church through Catholic journalism.