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South Africa: Home affairs hurries Zimbabwe papers

by Byo24 SA Correspondent
07 Jan 2011 at 14:29hrs | Views
THE South African Department of Home Affairs has employed additional personnel to expedite the process of documenting Zimbabwean nationals illegally resident in SA.

Last year, the department extended an olive branch to all undocumented Zimbabweans living in South AFrica to legalise their stay .

South African home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni said yesterday the department had received 275762 applications for consideration by the December 31 deadline.

Of this number, 42779 applications had been finalised so far. with 10166 Zimbabweans' applications under review.

Amnesty has been granted to 6243 Zimbabwean nationals, and 49255 of them have surrendered their asylum status in favour of obtaining valid work permits.

"These figures attest to our conviction that the majority of Zimbabwean nationals in South Africa want to comply with our immigration regulations with a view to living productive lives without fear of deportation," Mr Apleni said.

He reiterated the department's policy of deporting all Zimbabweans who are not in possession of legal documents after the application process had been finalised. "We cannot have people in this country that we don't know who they are and where they come from," he said.

There are conflicting reports about the number of undocumented Zimbabwean nationals in the South Africa. Some organisations estimate there are 1,5-million people in South Africa without legal papers.

There is also concern among human rights groups that deporting undocumented Zimbabweans on the eve of elections in that country will put many innocent lives at risk.

International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on Wednesday urged Zimbabwe's dominant political figures in the government of national unity to postpone the elections until a new constitution had been finalised as part of the political agreement that was concluded in 2008.

President Robert Mugabe, who was recently endorsed by his party as its presidential candidate, had indicated that most Zimbabweans were ready and had the appetite to hold elections before the end of the year.

Mr Apleni said South Africa was a signatory to international conventions on refugees and asylum seekers. Zimbabweans seeking asylum after the elections in their country would be dealt with according to the conventions.

Source - Byo24NEWS