South Africa deports 15000 as controls tighten

11 March 2012 - 02:32 By VLADIMIR MZACA

About 15 000 Zimbabweans have been deported from South Africa since October.

And those who are trying to enter SA to seek asylum are struggling to get the border passes they need to apply for asylum status.

People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (Passop), a Cape Town-based organisation, said there was rampant corruption in the process, and desperate asylum-seekers have been buying the border passes. "Over the past four weeks, the most pressing issue has been that virtually no newcomers are being allowed to apply for asylum. All who do not have a so-called 'border pass' were prohibited from lodging their application," said Passop.

"These border passes are in theory supposed to be issued to people at the border as they enter the country, but this is rarely the case. Whether this is a deliberate action or just a miscommunication between Immigration and Home Affairs is grounds for speculation, but what it means is that newcomers are stuck in limbo."

"Passop maintains that the requirement of the border pass is unlawful, and together with the Legal Resource Centre, we are an applicant in an ongoing court case against the Department of Home Affairs concerning this issue," it said.

Passop alleges that desperate asylum-seekers buy forged border passes for R1500 each so they can apply for permits. It said about 1700 applicants receive their permits every month. This figure is much lower than the number of Zimbabweans deported every month.

"We have so far handled 14932 deportees through Beitbridge border post since the exercise resumed on October 7 last year. Between January 1 and March 2, 7177 Zimbabweans were brought back home," Charles Gwede, assistant regional manager-in-charge of Beitbridge border post, told journalists this week.

Statistics reveal that most of the deportees are men and they intend to return.

Over 250000 Zimbabweans have been regularised so far. The South African government has ruled out an extension of the process that has been going on for the past two years.