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Home Affairs turning people back at Beit Bridge Border Post

According to news reports the operation, which started on New Year’s Day, mainly targets Zimbabweans who are in possession of South African travel documents after having allegedly acquired South African identification documents fraudulently.

Home Affairs Turning People Back At Beit Bridge Border Post

An official at the Home Affairs department at Beit Bridge, who declined to be named, spoke to a local news agency saying, “There is nothing new about the exercise; it is a just routine operation that Home Affairs conducts every year, especially after the festive season, to flush out foreigners who fraudulently acquired South African passports. There is a special team which was deployed to Beit Bridge by our head office to conduct the exercise.”

Zimbabweans using fake South African passports were also not allowed to cross the Beit Bridge border post and were turned back to Zimbabwe.

All South African passport holders entering the country from Zimbabwe are reportedly going through a rigorous process of interrogation on presenting their documents to immigration officials.

One of the affected Zimbabweans using a South African passport said to the Limpopo Mirror that when he arrived at the immigration counters, a female official started questioning him. “She then took my passport and gave me a form to complete, saying she doubted whether I was a genuine South African. I was ordered to go back to Zimbabwe.”

Usually during this time of the year, Beit Bridge Border Post handles a huge volume of southbound traffic and an increase in the number of travellers entering South Africa from Zimbabwe. Most of the travellers are Zimbabweans based in South Africa, who will be returning to work after spending the Christmas holiday at home with their families.

News reports say that a senior Zimbabwean immigration officer at Beit Bridge also confirmed the latest development, saying a number of Zimbabwean using South Africa passports were repossessed of their travel documents and turned away. “We received reports that some Zimbabweans using fraudulently acquired South African passports were turned away by SA Home Affairs officials and their passports were also seized, while some were given forms to complete, pending further investigations into the authenticity of their citizenship,” said the official.

Official at Beit Bridge said they recorded a sharp increase in traffic which could be attributed the increase to the last-hour rush by some Zimbabweans who were trying to beat the 31 December deadline for the application of permits under the new Zimbabwe Special Permits (ZPS) programme. ZPS replaced the old Dispensation for Zimbabwean Permits (DZP).

Under the DZP, Zimbabwean permit holders were allowed to re-apply for the new ZPS permits as long as they had a valid passport, evidence of employment, business or accredited study and a clean criminal record.

Out of about 245 000 Zimbabweans who were eligible to apply for permits under ZPS, it is now estimated that 207 802 met the deadline and the remaining 37 198 face deportation.

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