The evolving and inter-related social, economic and political crises in Zimbabwe have contributed to an unprecedented exodus of Zimbabweans from all backgrounds away from their home country. The majority of Zimbabweans are in South Africa, Botswana and the United Kingdom, with most believed to be in South Africa.
Exactly how many have left the country and for what reason remains unclear, and there is only limited empirical evidence, with much of this focused on the 'brain drain', as skilled Zimbabweans seek alternatives in the context of economic collapse and repressive authoritarian nationalism. Increasingly, many unskilled Zimbabweans are also on the move in a desperate bid to escape a deteriorating situation that appears to have no end in sight. In 2004, one senior official involved in the Zimbabwean government's 'Homelink' initiative that aimed at facilitating remittances of foreign exchange from the growing diaspora, estimated that between 60% to 70% of Zimbabwe's economically active population had left the country.
The Zimbabwe Torture Victims Project (ZTVP) was established in January 2005, to address growing concerns that many Zimbabweans who had left the country were victims of organized violence and torture (OVT), and as such were in need of medical and psycho-social assistance. Zimbabwean human rights organisations have recorded several thousand cases of OVT relating to incidents that have occurred since 2000.
To date, the ZTVP has provided assistance to over 120 victims / survivors of organised violence torture from Zimbabwe. The Project wanted to develop a clearer sense of how many potential clients they might have to deal with, and as such, wanted to get an impression of what proportion of Zimbabweans currently living in Gauteng might potentially qualify in terms of need.