Deadline extension out of the question

2010-12-26 12:28

No Zimbabwean would be deported until the Department of Home Affairs had finalised all applications for permits legalising their stay in South Africa, minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said this week.

Frantic Zimbabweans have been besieging the gates of Home Affairs centres across South Africa for days, clamouring to be admitted either to hand in applications or to receive permits.

Many of those waiting outside the gate of the centre at Pretoria Showgrounds told City Press they wanted to go home for Christmas.

The minister told the media that her department would not have Christmas this year.

Her officials, she said, would be working overtime to handle the thousands of applications already received and those still coming in.
“So, I think the Zimbabweans have to be fair on us. We are working and doing our best to sort out this issue and if they miss going home this Christmas, it will be a small sacrifice.”

The December 31 deadline, she said, was final.

“No one should harbour any illusions that this process will be extended. There will be no extensions. The deadline is not moveable.”

Her spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa, told City Press that no request to extend the deadline had been received from the Zimbabwean authorities.

Problems with Zimbabwe’s inability to issue passports timeously was the main stumbling block in the process, the minister said.

Zimbabweans should therefore submit their applications with whatever identity documents they have “so that they are in the system”. The department would accept birth certificates and IDs without passports.

Dlamini-Zuma said the department was receiving many applications every day, which officials would start dealing with after the deadline. The process would continue until the department had processed all the applications.

When the department knew “that anyone who has tried to be legalised has been documented”, those “who did not apply and are not in any of our processes” would be deemed to be in South Africa illegally.

The department, she said, would approach the Zimbabwean authorities with a list of applications awaiting passports and “ask them to expedite the processing of passport applications so we can conclude the process”.

The process was going well, the minister said. Officials were doing their best but “of course, we can improve as we go along”.

The department has doubled the number of staff in its back offices. Of the nearly 125?000 applications received, more than 40?000 had been adjudicated.

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