The South African Department of Home Affairs last week deported 672 undocumented Zimbabweans through the Beitbridge border post as the crackdown on illegal immigrants in the neighbouring country intensified.
The latest figure becomes the largest since the resumption of the deportations in October last year.
Zimbabwe’s assistant regional immigration manager Tamari Shadaya confirmed the latest crackdown, saying 511 were from Lindela holding centre in Johannesburg while 161 were rounded up in various parts of Limpopo Province.
“We received 672 Zimbabwean border jumpers and they were sent to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) for vetting and assistance before deployment to their respective homes,” Shadaya said.
On average, the immigration department handles between 80 and 100 deportees a day, she said.
South Africa resumed the deportation of Zimbabweans in October last year after the exercise was put on hold in May 2009.
In April 2009, South Africa announced a moratorium on the deportation of Zimbabweans and granted them a special dispensation for one year so that they could regularise their stay in that country.
There are an estimated three million Zimbabweans resident in South Africa fleeing the economic meltdown in Sadc region’s former breadbasket.