Zimbabweans in South Africa are reportedly sleeping outside the Home Affairs offices and other centres to beat long queues to regularise their stay ahead of the December 31 deadline.
South African officials are said to be unable to handle the high turnout of Zimbabweans who are seeking registration and legal identification documents.
Zimbabwe Consular General in Johannesburg Chris Mapanga confirmed the long queues and said there was need to open more centres.
“There has been an overwhelming response to the call for Zimbabweans to register for legal documentation and because of the numbers, some have preferred to sleep outside the offices if they were not served on that particular day,” Mapanga said.
“We are in the process of opening more centres in other provinces because the two Home Affairs offices in Johannesburg and Pretoria and the two embassies will not be able to handle the pressure.”
Some Zimbabweans in South Africa who spoke to NewsDay said the situation was dire as they had to endure several nights to make good their stay.
“I have no choice but to make sure that I do not lose my position in the queue.
Because of that most people now prefer to sleep in the queue. There are too many people.
The South African government needs to open more centres for the registration,” said Sithembiso Nyoni.
Another Zimbabwean who refused to be named said sleeping in the queues was nothing compared to experiences back home.
“There is nothing amazing about us sleeping in the queues since back home we once queued for every basic good or item that we needed.
Therefore, we are prepared for anything,” he said.
However, some Zimbabweans have said the December 31 deadline needs to be extended.
But Mapanga replied:
“The process has not gone on for even a month, so it is still too early to speak about extending the deadline.
There may be a high turnout, but extending the deadline is something we will look into when there is need.
For now, everything is in order.”
Meanwhile, media reports say hundreds of Zimbabweans have fallen victim to a scam where they are made to pay R750 to obtain the documents, an allegation Mapanga denied.