The South African Home Affairs department yesterday said it had finished adjudicating applications for permits by undocumented Zimbabweans and warned those who failed to take advantage of the programme would “face the full consequence of South Africa’s immigration laws”.
A total of 275 762 Zimbabweans applied for permits, but it is estimated that up to one million others did not register, paving way for massive deportations. Zimbabweans were given a December 31 2010 deadline to register while the South African authorities gave themselves until July 31 2011 (last Sunday) to adjudicate on the applications.
In a statement, the Home Affairs department said it would not entertain any new applications, closing the door on those who failed to regularise their stay.
“The deadline for the submission of applications for work, study and business permits from undocumented Zimbabwean nationals was on 31 December 2010. Any other deadline we announced before related to internal processes and had nothing to do with new applications by Zimbabweans.
“Following the deadline of 31 December 2010, no new applications for work, business and study permits in terms of the Zimbabwe Documentation Project are or will be accepted,” read the statement.
The department said it had not issued permits to all successful applicants because of logistical challenges while some Zimbabweans had not yet received their documents from the Zimbabwean authorities.
“Once these processes (issuing of permits) have been finalised, (Home Affairs) Minister Nkosana Dlamini-Zuma will subject the entire Zimbabwean Documentation Project to a review process with a view to ensuring those applications that were not successful were not unduly rejected. As soon as Minister Dlamini-Zuma concludes the review process, this will have the effect of bringing down the curtain on the Zimbabwean Documentation Project,” the department said.
The department said it would not engage in “wholesale deportations of Zimbabweans”, saying the South African government would “revert to the normal processes of immigration in line with domestic and international precepts.