Anxiety has gripped the Zimbabwean community in South Africa as the South African government presses ahead with plans to deport up to a million Zimbabweans who have not regularised their stay in that country.
South African Home Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa confirmed yesterday that the deportations would be carried out after the July 31 deadline, although he refused to reveal the logistical plans put in place for the massive operation.
He said his government was on course to beat the July 31 deadline to provide permits to all eligible illegal Zimbabwean immigrants who applied to regularise their stay.
“The process (of providing permits) is still underway and we are hopeful we will beat the deadline,” he said.
“We will take action once the process is complete and that’s when we will announce how the deportations will be conducted.”
Zimbabwe Exiles’ Forum programme manager Eddie Matangaidze, whose organisation is part of the Zimbabwe Documentation Project Stakeholders’ Forum, headed by SA’s Home Affairs Department, said it appeared there would be no reverse in the deportations.
“From the meetings we have had with the Home Affairs guys and what we see on the ground, it appears the deportation deadline is very serious. We are worried that a significant number of people who applied for permits is still to receive the documents, while others have not received their Zimbabwean passports,” said Matangaidze.
“We are however approaching the Home Affairs Department, on behalf of those people whose applications for permits were rejected, so that the decision can be reversed.”
Matangaidze said the department already knew places where most illegal Zimbabweans were staying and would find it easy to flush them out.
It is estimated that up to 1,5 million Zimbabweans live in South Africa and most of them have no permits.