AFRICANGLOBE -South Africa will soon start deporting Zimbabweans who failed to acquire Zimbabwe Special Permits (ZSP) following the end of the documentation programme at the end of last year, the country’s Home Affairs Department spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said yesterday.
He said Zimbabweans were given a chance to formalise their stay in South Africa through the ZSP whose deadline expired on December, 31, 2014, hence no-one should give excuses for being in South Africa illegally.
At least 40,000 Zimbabweans failed to meet the deadline to apply for permits through the ZSP programme, while thousands more never applied in the original scheme introduced in 2009 over suspicions of South Africa’s intentions or lack of formal jobs.
Tshwete said South Africa would soon intensify deportations of foreigners living in the country with no documentation.
“Zimbabweans were given a chance to formalise their stay in South Africa through the ZSP and the deadline has since passed. We don’t expect anybody to give excuses on why they don’t have adequate documentation,” he said by telephone from South Africa.
“More than 245,000 Zimbabweans were granted permits. We were committed to this programme and more than prepared to issue the permits to all those who applied. Those who were denied the permits failed to submit the required documentation such as valid passports and proof of employment.”
He said some people did not re-apply for the permits, probably because they had left South Africa.
“The deportation of foreigners is an on-going programme. It’s a policy that any foreigner in the country with no proper documentation should be sent back to their country. We’re therefore going to continue with deportations and any foreigner found with no documentation will definitely be affected,” added Tshwete.
He said if anyone had not been called to collect a permit, it was a sign that he or she had failed to make the grade.
Many Zimbabweans faced a number of challenges as the processing of the permits was hit by technical glitches that resulted in at least 37,198 failing to regularise their stay in the neighbouring country.
Some failed to get through to the VFS call centre, where the contact number was continually unreachable, while others failed to secure affidavits from their employers.
The Department of Home Affairs began accepting online applications on October 1 last year and 10 ZSP application centres in different provinces were set up.
The introduction of the ZPS marked the expiry of the old Dispensation for Zimbabweans Programme (DZP), which started in May, 2009
After applying online, one had to secure an appointment to hand in the documents at the Home Affairs offices through their call centre.
According to the new regulations, applicants were expected to submit a valid passport, evidence of employment, business or accredited study and be free of a criminal record.
It is estimated that more than 1.5 million Zimbabweans are living in South Africa.
By: Pamela Shumba