Deportation of Zimbabweans on hold
Speaking to VOA spokesman for the South African Home Affairs Department, Mayihlome Tshwete, said that the South African Department of Home Affairs is in the process of confirming the number of Zimbabweans legally in South Africa under the new permit Zimbabwean Special Permit scheme.
Tshwete said, in the interview, that those Zimbabweans who did not reapply under the permit scheme may have found other means to regularize their stay in South Africa. It could be that these Zimbabwean nationals are now legally living and working in South Africa under one of the country’s other visa options. Or they may have returned to their native Zimbabwe.
Media reports late last year stated that the South African Government have threatened to deport Zimbabweans, who under the people under the permit system failed to lodge their applications by the December 31st deadline.
According to reports officials will now first establish the status of those who didn’t apply for the extension before commencing the deportation process.
“We tried to make people understand that some people used the ZSP for study reasons, and others might have been married, in the four years, five years they have been here, and others might have moved back to Zimbabwe, so there isn’t a 35,000 just waiting around to be deported,” said Tshwete.
“We are still going to tally up and try to find out what happened to most of the people, but what we do know is that a good number of them have moved from the ZSP to ordinary work permits.”
In his media statement Tshwete also emphasized the importance of understanding the program, which started in 2010 under the Zimbabwe dispensation permit program saying that the scheme was designed to regularize the status of illegal Zimbabweans staying in the country.
“It wasn’t the complete sum of Zimbabwean foreign nationals in South Africa and it doesn’t represent all Zimbabwean nationals in South Africa, it was specifically for those people who were in the country illegally,” said Tshwete of the 245 000 Zimbabweans who managed to regularize their stay in South Africa before the deadline of 31 December 2014.
He explained that deportations in South Africa, like any other country, occur if a foreigner is undocumented.
“To the extent that deportations will happen they will happen if anybody is undocumented, whether they are Zimbabwean or an American. It’s not an intention to target Zimbabwean nationals, everyone should be documented.
“Permit holders must follow the same immigration laws of regularizing their stay outside of the ZSP,” said Tshwete in conclusion.