Thousands of Zimbabweans who have not yet received permits allowing them to stay and work in South Africa (SA) are reportedly in panic mode as the July 31 deadline approaches.
Deportations will begin at the expiry of the deadline issued for Zimbabweans living in SA to regularise their stay in that country.
In a statement on Tuesday, a South Africa-based refugee rights groups, People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (Passop), said Zimbabweans, were panic stricken and living in fear.
“Many people are yet to receive their paperwork, which will enable them to complete their registration process,” said Passop.
“Due to this, people are beginning to panic and are worried that the department will not be able to meet its deadline which is two weeks away.”
More than 275 000 Zimbabwean applicants submitted their documents hoping to regularise their stay in South Africa.
Two weeks ago, South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs insisted it would meet its July deadline, despite announcing late last month that it had only issued about 133 000 permits.
According to Passop, the department indicated that there would be a “grace period” when the project ends and before deportations resume.
“However, it is not clear how long this period would last,” said the refugee rights group.
An estimated 1, 5 million Zimbabweans are reportedly living in South Africa, most of them illegally.