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Panic sets as deportation nears

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A South Africa-based refugee rights group, Passop, has written to South Africa’s Home Affairs Department seeking an extension of the deportation deadline for illegal Zimbabwe immigrants in that country.

In a statement yesterday, Passop said an estimated 100 000 Zimbabweans living in South Africa were still awaiting documentation legalising their stay there.

“We have written to South Africa’s Home Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma requesting for a two-month extension,” read the statement.

“We estimate that close to 100 000 people are still waiting for their documents.”

Passop said by yesterday they had not yet received a response from the South African government.

“The Home Affairs Department has been very open with us throughout the process and we are quite confident that they will consider our appeal and grant an extension,” said Passop.

South African officials have however hinted there would be no extension to the July 31 deadline, after they had extended the deadline twice before.

South Africa has warned deportations would resume immediately after the July 31 deadline.

“Most people have not received passports from the Zimbabwe consulate and some have not even sent their fingerprints, meaning their applications have not been completed,” the rights group said.

Last week, Passop reported that only about 276 000 permit applications had been made, against an estimated two million Zimbabweans believed to be living in South Africa. To date, 133 000 permits have been issued.

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