Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
South Africa will, between today and tomorrow, deport a total of 273 Zimbabweans who have been arrested for breaking its immigration laws.
The move is part of the neighbouring country’s efforts to contain the rapid spread of Covid-19 by decongesting over populated areas mostly prisons and immigrants detention centres.
A total of 169 arrived today in police vans while another 106 are expected to arrive in the country by road through Beitbridge Border Post tomorrow.
Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, Mr David Hamadziripi said that all those being deported were from various holding centres in Limpopo Province.
“I can confirm that the South African authorities will be deporting a total of 273 Zimbabwean nationals from 2 to 3 July 2020.
“The majority of them had been arrested for violation of South Africa’s immigration laws,” said the ambassador.
The latest development brings to 800 the total number of Zimbabweans deported from the neighbouring country since the beginning of April. The first group of 527 arrived in the country in a convoy of 11 buses in May and these were mostly from Gauteng province.
Among the immigrants were 129 ex convicts.
Upon arrival in the country the immigrants are screened and profiled at the National Social Security Hotel, which is being used as a quarantine and isolation centre before being transferred to quarantine centres nearer their homes.
Before the lockdown, South Africa was deporting around 60 people daily and most of those intercepted immigrants would have overstayed or travelled without valid travel documents.
Under the current South African regulations, Zimbabweans are allowed a stay of not more than 90 days per calendar year and those who are not formally employed are finding too difficult to conduct their businesses under three months.
The 90 days free visa is awarded to the traveler the ports of entries at the discretion of immigration officers. While others chose to overstay, some are making use of fake immigration stamps to illegally extend their stay in South Africa.