The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Latest - SA Deportations Drops By 21 Percent

The number of Zimbabweans being deported from South Africa for breaking that country's immigration laws has decreased by 21 percent during the last 12 months.

Deportations from south of the Limpopo River resumed October 7, 2011 following the expiry of the July 31, 2011 deadline for them to regularise their stay in that country.

The amnesty on the deportations of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants staying in that country ran from May 5, 2009 to July 31, 2011.

Prior to that Zimbabweans wishing to travel to that country were required to apply for a six months visa accompanied by R2000 as surety that they would be able to sustain their stay in that country.

Following the scrapping of the visa they (Zimbabweans) are now allowed to visit that country for a period not exceeding 90 days.

Over 275 000 applications for Zimbabweans wishing to regularise their stay in that country were processed while several others were turned down and others are pending.

Figures from the Department of Immigration show that a total of 28 738 people were repatriated last year between January and December as compared to 36 438 in the previous year.

The Assistant Regional Immigration Officer in charge of Southern region (Beitbridge) Mr Charles Gwede attributed the decline in cases of deportations to the improved access of travel documents in the country.

He said the department's zero tolerance to irregular migration along the border with South Africa had also contributed to the decline.

He added that the natural economic climate in the country has also seen relatively few individuals migrating south of the Limpopo.

Mr Gwede said they were receiving an average of 80 to 100 people from South Africa per day.

"We have recorded a remarkable decline in cases where people are being deported from South Africa for violating that country's immigration laws.

"In some cases these will be undocumented, while others will have overstayed or some are criminals who have finished serving in prison for various offences

"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," he said.

A total of 71 678 have since been deported from South Africa since October 2011.

Upon being deported to Zimbabwe, the illegal immigrants will be temporarily housed at the International Organisation for migration reception centre in Beitbridge, where they will be given overnight accommodation, good and transport to their respective homes.

The IOM reception centre has the capacity to accommodate an average of 600 people per day including minors and adults.

South Africa has since indicated that they will thoroughly vet Zimbabwean illegal immigrants living in that country before deportation unlike in the past where they applied a wholesale approach and deported anyone from Zimbabwe.

The developments came following a marathon meeting between Home Affairs officials from both countries which was held in Beitbridge on in October 2011.

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