Home affairs assures no 'mass deportations'
Pretoria - There will be no "mass deportations" of Zimbabweans, the home affairs department said on Monday.
"Zimbabweans will be treated like any other nationality who are deported when found without proper documentation," head of the Zimbabwe documentation project, Jacob Mamabolo, after confirming that adjudication of all applications from Zimbabweans wishing to legalise their stay in South Africa had been finalised.
Zimbabweans could now collect their permits before the lapse of a grace period this month, after which any Zimbabweans in the country without proper documentation would be deported.
According to the department's statistics, there are approximately 1.5 million Zimbabweans in the country.
A total of 275 762 applications for work, study and business permits were received from undocumented Zimbabweans by the December 31, 2010 deadline, after the government created a special dispensation for them. Many were unable to get their papers in time and will "face the full consequences of South Africa's immigration laws".
Mamabolo said the documentation process would enhance security in the country.
There were however still problems with getting applicants to come to home affairs to have biometric details like fingerprints taken to finalise their applications.
Mamabolo said some of the people might have decided to abandon the process or had left the country.
Other applications were still waiting for travel documents to be issued by Zimbabwean authorities.
Mamabolo said all applicants would know where they stood in terms of their residency status by the end of the month. They would be notified via SMS.
He previously indicted that uncollected permits would be destroyed after the grace period.
Once these processes were finalised Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would review the entire project, to ensure that unsuccessful applicants had not been unfairly treated.
Mamabolo could not commit to a time-frame.
There were reports of some Zimbabweans being arrested. Mamabolo said the department had been liaising with law enforcement authorities in this regard.
An appeal was made to those who had applied for amnesty to go to their nearest home affairs offices to complete their amnesty confirmation forms.