Some answers to prayer for Eritrean victim of Christian persecution seeking asylum in SA

Life in South Africa has recently become a little better for Filmon Tesfai, a health professional and victim of Christian persecution from Eritrea, after the Department of Home Affairs granted him a temporary permit that is renewable every six months, reports Ashley Cloete of NPO Friends from Abroad.

Last month Gateway News reported that Filmon, who has been jailed four times and tortured for his faith in Eritrea, which is sixth on Open Doors’ World Watch List of the 50 nations where it is most dangerous to be a Christian, had his asylum application turned down, was granted a residence permit of just one month, had to repeatedly travel from Cape Town to PE for interviews with Home Affairs at his own expense, and was also advised to pay a bribe.

In 2018, Filmon’s wife, Sharon, a medical doctor, who had fled their Marxist-governed country on the horn of Africa, ahead of her husband, applied for asylum at the Durban office of Home Affairs which denied her application on some flimsy grounds. The couple hoped that Filmon would fare better with his application

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Cloete said today: “We are so grateful for the answer to our prayers for our brother Filmon who had such a raw deal from corrupt Home Affairs officials last year. In a very surprising turnaround, he was not required to go to Port Elizabeth again in December and he also got an extension of his permit till June 2020. He would now be in a much better position to get employment!

“He would furthermore now be able to go for the extension of his permit to the Cape Town Refugee office that will hopefully be reopened soon! The family has just found accommodation in Cape Town and will be returning from Durban soon.

“All in all, there is, therefore, much to be thankful for a fresh breeze from Home Affairs. The minister has gone public on TV that he prefers dialoguing with stakeholders to opposing them in court! Let us pray that this might not be merely a new broom sweeping. The minister took office in May.”

Filmon told Gateway News today that despite the positive development of his permit being extended from one month to six months, he understands that due to administrative problems within the refugee appeal board, it takes more than 15 years for a case to be reviewed by the board.

“In spite of the Home Affairs injustice, I haven’t let it daunt me. Currently, I am engaging with the Body of Christ in SA to raise awareness of the persecution of believers in Eritrea, speaking in churches, on Christian radio stations and to mission organisations,” he said.

Anybody who would like to invite Filmon to speak at an event can email him at or WhatsApp him at +27 67 796 0848. Read here for Filmon’s testimony of his trials as a Christian in Eritrea.

A note on Eritrea on the Open Doors World Watch List web summary reads: “Eritrea is home to the Eritrean Orthodox Church (EOC). Here, other denominations aren’t regarded as legitimate which leads to persecution on different fronts.

“Christians who aren’t members of state-approved churches are considered agents of the West and a threat to the state. They face serious problems in accessing community resources and government social services. Hundreds of Christians belonging to unregistered churches have been arrested and imprisoned (some for over a decade) during government house-to-house raids. Many of these prisoners are forced to work long hours in commercial flower fields, while hundreds are incarcerated in inhumane conditions, including small shipping containers in scorching temperatures.

“Both converts from a Muslim background and cross-denominational converts from an Orthodox background encounter harsh mistreatment from their families and communities. In Islamic regions, converts are imprisoned and tortured, so they deny Christ.”


  1. Marianne van Niekerk

    I had the wonderful privilege of interviewing Filemon short after his arrival in SA. What a witness of FAITH IN GOD ALMIGHTY!! He will be blessed always…his cup runneth over…all my love to him and his family..
    Marianne van Niekerk
    Presenter at online Radio station “JOU STASIE”

  2. I had the privilege to meet Filemon and his beautiful family this January. It was encouraging to hear their story and to find such a faith that hold firm, knowing that it is worth suffering for.
    My wish I that SA recognizes the persecution in Eritrea and opens the doors for many other asylum seekers like them.

  3. I was thrilled, as a UK citizen visiting SA, to hear Filemon and his wife’s challenging testimonies. I also marvelled at both God’s wonderful protection and their own very real and courageous faith