AGGRESSIVE street vendors bashing on his wife’s car was the last straw for Sam Saunders. He and his family had to get out of South Africa and were drawn to the safety and opportunities the Sunshine Coast offered.
But complications with their permanent residency visa applications are now threatening to end the family’s time in Australia.
Mr Saunders, his wife Ansonet and their daughter Larune’s were living in the platinum mining hub of Rustenburg when they decided to leave South Africa.
“Most nights you could hear the AK47s going off in the distance,” Mr Saunders said.
The compound in which his family lived had a security fence around it, their home had another security fence, there were steel burglar bars across all the doors and windows, all of the entry points were alarmed and there were armed security guards on call 24 hours.
There had been a number of incidents but the final one was when Mrs Saunders and Larune were set upon by street vendors while stopped at traffic lights.
After Mrs Saunders refused to buy their wares, the vendors started slamming on the roof of the car and rocking it.
“She just lost it totally,” Mr Saunders said.
“She said ‘I’ve had it, I’m leaving’.”
They went to New Zealand in September 2009 but moved to Mountain Creek when Mrs Saunders was able to get a student visa to studying at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
Mr Saunders worked as a technician at Mooloolaba Computers for the maximum 20 hours/week allowed under the visa until his wife obtained a graduate visa, allowing him to do 40 hours.
They have spent about $175,000 in visa and education fees since arriving and an unsuccessful attempt to gain a permanent residency visa has left them with no money to try again.
“We’ve been doing our level best to be contributing citizens to this country,” he said.
Without a visa, they will have to leave on August 26.
Mr Saunders said a downturn in the platinum industry had left his former home in poor economic condition.
“It’s very, very bad there. There is nothing to go back to.”
His boss, Craig Randall, has started a Go Fund Me webpage to raise the $11,500 needed to pay for visas.