24 November 2012

Zimbabwe: South Africa Deports Nearly 43 000 Zimbabweans

Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
File photo: Zimbabwe economic migrants crawl under the border fence into South Africa from Zimbabwe.

NEARLY 43 000 Zimbabweans have been deported from South Africa since October last year for living in that country without proper documentation.

The deportations started in October last year following the expiry of the July 31, 2011 deadline for the Zimbabweans to regularise their stay there.

The amnesty ran from May 5 2009 to July 31, last year.

Over 275 000 applications for Zimbabweans wishing to regularise their stay in South Africa were processed during that time, while several others were turned down.

More applications are still pending.

Police officer commanding Beitbridge district Chief Superintendent Lawrence Chinhengo said yesterday that they were receiving an average of between 200 and 300 deportees from South Africa per day.

Most of the illegal immigrants, he said, being repatriated from Gauteng and Limpopo provinces.

Chief Supt Chinhengo said the highest number of deportations were in June when they received 4 460.

He said they had noted that the number of deportations was fluctuating on daily basis as they had received 2 967 people in October.

Chief Supt Chinhengo raised concern that some of the deportees were resorting to crime in the border town when they became stranded soon after their release from the International Organisation for Migration reception centre.

At the IOM centre, the deportees are offered food and transport to their homes, but 40 percent of them shun the assistance opting to quickly go back to South Africa.

During a recent visit to Beitbridge by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Home Affairs, IOM head of programmes Mrs Natalia Perez said the reception centre has the capacity to carry between 1 000 and 1 500 people at any given time.

Chief Supt Chinhengo said police from both countries had increased patrols along the border with a view to reducing cases of irregular migration.

There are over 200 illegal crossing points along the Limpopo River covering an area of over 300 kilometres.

"Patrols have resulted in a 76 percent decline of robbery cases along the boundary line," said Chief Supt Chinhengo.

"We also want to warn members of the public to desist from irregular migration as they risk being mugged by criminals along the Limpopo River.

"We will continue to maintain a strong presence so that we weed out unruly elements along our border line."

Many Zimbabweans flocked to South Africa at the height of the country's economic problems caused by illegal sanctions imposed by Western countries.

Many of them did not have proper documents and used illegal routes.

Although some returned as the situation got better in Zimbabwe, others opted to stay put, forcing the South African authorities to deport them.

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