Omalayitsha bayasithwala: Stories of women caught in the web of illegal cross-border migration

  • Dastile Nontyatyambo Pearl
Keywords: Malayitsha, illegal cross-border migration, diaspora, crime.


The gender dimension in the discourses on migration, crime and criminality and the fragmentation of ubuntu throughout the African diaspora has received scant scholarly attention. Caught up in this web of crime are women who, as legal or illegal immigrants and as South African citizens, are involved in criminal networks for the purposes of survival and to eke out a livelihood. This article examines the gender dimension of crossborder and transnational criminality and the subjective experiences of women involved in illegal cross-border migration. Drawing on in-depth interviews with seven women incarcerated in correctional centres, I highlight the centrality of gendered experiences of women while crossing borders. The study reveals that for some women the decision to migrate is influenced by the need to alleviate hous hold poverty following the soaring unemployment and economic and political crisis in neighbouring Zimbabwe. These insights reveal the blurred boundaries between women as victims and perpetrators, thus contributing to emerging critical perspectives drawing on discourses on gender and migration within Africa.

Keywords: Malayitsha, illegal cross-border migration, diaspora, crime.


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eISSN: 1683-0296