Southern Africa: JRS Southern Africa Welcomes a New Regional Director as it bids Farewell to Father David Holdcroft SJ
09 September 2016

(From Left to Right) Seated next to each other Outgoing JRS Southern Africa Regional Director, Father David Holdcroft SJ, with newly appointed Regional Director, Tim Smith. (Robert Kabale Mbanda, Hugo Hivanove Mpenzi, Joseph Kabila Bahulule/ Dzaleka Refugee Camp)

Johannesburg, 9 September 2016 – After six years of selfless service, Father David Holdcroft SJ has moved on as Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Southern Africa Regional Director. His skills and talent will be applied elsewhere within JRS, at the International Office level. Staff, refugees, asylum seekers and many other people he has come into contact with, will most certainly miss him dearly.

However, with the sad news of his departure, there is a silver lining to the dark cloud, his replacement, the newly appointed Regional Director, Tim Smith, is certainly a competent and worthy replacement. To quote the outgoing Regional Director: “I have been working with Tim this last month as he learns to the work of JRS in the region and I feel confident that he can guide the region to take the next steps to a greater professionalism while at the same time deepening the personal presence to the people who are at the heart of our work, the refugee and forced migrants of the region.”

In terms of his experience at JRS, Tim has the following to say: “I have spent the past few weeks on a steep learning curve. I have visited Malawi and seeing the camp at Dzaleka, visiting Zimbabwe and staying in the Tongogara Refugee Camp. I then spent a week visiting the South African projects in Johannesburg and Pretoria, as well as meeting with officials from UNHCR and others. I am very impressed with the huge amount of work going on and the many projects which touch the lives of refugees and displaced people in so many different ways.  Hereafter, I am off to Europe to visit funders. I look forward to meeting all the other Regional Directors in Nairobi at the end of September.”

Tim has a long and illustrious history in the non-governmental space and what can only be described as a calling by faith has guided much of his work.

Tim was born in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal and completed his education with the Jesuits in Grahamstown.  After studies at the University of the Witwatersrand and UNISA, he joined the Jesuits and did his Noviceship and Philosophy in England, and his Theology in Rome.  He was ordained in 1983 and sent to the parish of Elandskop outside Pietermaritzburg, a mission then run by the Jesuits. 

In 1988 the parish became the centre of a local civil conflict and Tim was moved to Johannesburg in 1990, working at Braamfontein in the city centre and then Orlando West in Soweto. In 1993 he was seconded to the Bishops Conference in Pretoria to work in Voter Education as preparation for the first democratic elections in 1994. 

In 1999 he became Jesuit Regional Superior and then also took on the role of JRS Country Director in South Africa.  In 2001 he left the Jesuits to marry, and then worked at the Catholic Health Care Association for six years, and after that at Breadline Africa, a UK charity, from 2009 until now.  He is married with one son and lives in Cape Town.  He enjoys cycling, hiking, and fixing things at home.  

Below follows, a podcast of an interview conducted by Regional Communication’s Officer, Gushwell Brooks, on the JRS half an hour radio slot, on South Africa’s premiere Catholic Radio station, Radio Veritas:

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