- Zimbabwe has appealed to its citizens to respect South Africa's laws.
- The country's ambassador says many Zimbabweans are making positive contributions in South Africa.
- Zimbabwe is worried about the ill-treatment of its citizens by locals.
"I appeal to all of my compatriots to abide by the South African laws."
This was the plea of Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa, David Hamadziripi.
Speaking in Pretoria on Thursday, Hamadziripi responded to questions about some Zimbabweans who fell foul of the law.
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Hamadziripi said: "Clearly, it is like in any basket, you will get bad apples. There are those focused on them. We have thousands of Zimbabweans making positive contributions in South Africa. We don't hear much about them. We hear (only) about those who tarnish the name of Zimbabwe."
"In our country, we want everybody to respect the law. We also expect them to respect the laws of South Africa," said Hamadziripi.
Hamadziripi raised concerns about recent videos on social media where foreign nationals, including Zimbabweans, were prevented from receiving public services.
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"Our route is through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) to raise our concerns. This is not the right thing to prevent people from accessing public services. We have raised that with Dirco about such treatment. We wish those practices to stop.
"Regarding those who were recently evicted from a building in Johannesburg, we interacted with authorities, including the police. Our government has provided funding to assist those people who wish to return home. Where our people need assistance, we have mobilised to help them.”
Hamadziripi added that, for now, they are focusing on assisting Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders who voluntarily wish to return home.
“With undocumented Zimbabweans in South Africa, there are processes done by South Africa, including deportations, that are continuously being undertaken. Assisting the ZEP holders to return home has nothing to do with upcoming elections. It's not the Zimbabwe government that decided to end the ZEP.
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"We are talking about human lives. Certainly, the Zimbabwe government can't sit back and observe a situation which may cause greater suffering for our people."
Hamadziripi said he didn't know how many undocumented and documented Zimbabweans were living in South Africa.
"We don't process the entry into South Africa. Documented and undocumented Zimbabweans enter South Africa through various ports of entry. South Africa doesn't share with us the number of documented and documented compatriots," said Hamadziripi.