Bob and Betty’s story is fascinating. They had no children of their own, so they took in black foster kids and treated them like their own. At 46, Betty suddenly started feeling pains in her stomach and went to see the doctor. It turned out she was 7 weeks pregnant with a perfectly healthy child.
– No doubt about it, Dora was a gift from God, Betty says. A pure miracle.
But when this beautiful blond girl with big blue eyes was three months old two black men came and wanted to buy her – for medical purposes. The practice of witch craft is widespread among black South Africans, for instance, many believe that having sex with a virgin will cure them of HIV infection and sometimes, various body parts of children are used to manufacture different kinds of “medicine”.
Thought it was a sick joke
Betty was at the family business office together with an employee, when the men showed up and made their gruesome offer – they wanted to buy Dora. Initially, Betty did not go to the police, because she couldn’t believe what she had just heard. She dismissed it as a sick joke, but when the men came back she got scared.
– It wasn’t until the third time that I finally went to the police, and by then I was really upset. But the police just told me that what had happened wasn’t a crime since Dora hadn’t been hurt.
Still, the men did not give up. Time and again they came back to the office and then started showing up at the house where the family lived. They sat outside and waved to Betty when she left the house with Dora, sending a clear signal that they had not given up hope on getting their hands on the girl.
– We were told that once they have chosen a victim they won’t stop, Bob says.
After a very frightening incident the family decided they could not stay in South Africa. What happened was that Betty, her mom and Dora was in a grocery store when the men turned up and grabbed the girl. Betty got hold of some object and threw it at them, and in their surprise, they lost their grip on Dora.
The police did not want to investigate
The police were reluctant to investigate the crime and provide protection for the family. They moved several times, but the men who were out to get little Dora always found them. Finally, they were so afraid they decided to flee the country.
– Nobody talks about witch craft in South Africa, because it’s simply unbelievable to us that anyone would want to kidnap a child to rape and kill her to make “medicine”. Dora does have some kind of memory of what happened and sometimes she has trouble sleeping. We took her to a psychologist, but there is not much they can do, since she is so young, Bob tells us.
In March 2014, Bob got a job in Sweden. The family sold their farm and their business for next to nothing and decided to try and build a future in the Nordic country. Bob worked hard at a local farm where he was paid far too little and had to work overtime without compensation. As he had just moved to Sweden, Bob did not know his rights and it was not until he joined the union that he got the money his employer owed him.
Bob worked too much – must leave Sweden
When the Swedish Migration Agency found out, they decided to revoke his work permit – he had worked too much and earned to little! Even though the family was never a burden to society they were not welcome here anymore. Betty says:
– A lawyer told us that we are not the kind of immigrants Sweden want – but we are exactly what the country needs …
One could easily get the impression that the Swedish Migration Agency favors immigrants from the third world who live off welfare, and don’t want to help white South Africans who support themselves. When Bob’s work permit was about to expire, someone told them that they could apply for asylum instead, since Dora’s life is threatened in South Africa.
And so they did. However, they recently received word that they do not have any reasons for being granted asylum. The Swedish Migration Agency writes, in documentation that Ingrid&Maria have read, that they do not doubt the family’s account of how men tried to kidnap Dora, but believe they “should” be able to receive protection in South Africa.
A political decision?
– I believe it is a political decision, Bob says. Sweden still supports the ANC government in South Africa and it could be seen as criticism of ANC if Sweden were to grant us asylum.
Dora is now fluent in Swedish, despite English being the only language spoken at home. She goes to school and has several close friends.
– She thinks like a Swede and acts like a Swede. She is more Swedish than the two us will ever be, says Betty.
Bob now has a new job working as an auto mechanic and is much appreciated by his colleagues. But even though he works and pays his taxes he is not entitled to child support, parental leave or any subsidies should he become sick. He has never managed to find out why.
Love Midsummer celebration and crayfish parties
Betty just finished her exam in Swedish for immigrants and have now started taking lessons in Swedish as a second language. Her dream is to work as a translator, and she and Bob have both become involved with the local church.
– We love Midsummer celebrations and crayfish parties with the “snaps” and the singing that goes with it. All we want is to fit into Sweden, work and pay taxes.
But the Swedish Migration Agency has no empathy for a little blond and blue-eyed girl. The asylum application was turned down, and the family is now waiting for a final court decision, but they have almost no hope left – they are not even allowed to attend the court where their future is going to be decided.
– We have applied for residence permit in Australia, because the family can never return to South Africa.
Could be forced to leave their daughter in Sweden
The family’s situation is bordering on desperate. Bob might get his work permit extended, but Betty will probably be thrown out of Sweden. And as a mother, she is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice – to leave her daughter in safety with her dad in Sweden and return to South Africa by herself.
– Dora’s safety is what’s most important to me. But I will have to wait four years to reapply for a residence permit, so it will be absolutely horrendous.
Note: Bob, Betty and Dora are not their real names.
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