South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs has ruled out any further extension of the deadline set for Zimbabwean immigrants based in the neighbouring country to regularise their stay.
In a statement yesterday, the department maintained the July 31 deadline was final and warned any foreigner found without requisite documentation risked imminent deportation.
This is contrary to claims by a South Africa-based rights group, Passop, that the deadline had been extended to August 31.
Last week, Passop wrote to the South African government pleading for an extension of the deadline for the documentation process, with an estimated 100 000 reportedly still awaiting their resident and work permits.
On Monday this week, Passop claimed their request had been granted and the deadline had been moved to end of August.
“There shall be no extension whatsoever to the July 31 deadline, it remains in place,” said South Africa’s Home Affairs Department spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa.
“Any other report or information, as long as it does not come from us, is false.”
The deadline for the Zimbabwe documentation process was set for July 31 and South African officials had indicated deportations would begin immediately after the deadline.
About 276 000 out of an estimated two million Zimbabweans reportedly based in South Africa are said to have submitted their applications since the launch of the programme last year.
South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs last month said it still needed to hand over about 100 000 permits, but insisted it would meet the July 31 deadline.
However, to date, the department said it had adjudicated 273 514 out of 275 762 applications.
A total of 133 810 people had received their permits while 2 248 applications were still to be adjudicated.