Over 10 000 Zimbabweans have been deported from South Africa since last year, with the country’s neighbour north of the Limpopo River spending R33 million every month on extraditing illegal immigrants.
Zimbabweans constitute the second largest group of immigrants staying illegally in South Africa, which is Africa’s most advanced economy.
It is estimated that over two million Zimbabweans are staying in South Africa, the majority of them without the requisite documentation to support their stay.
Most Zimbabweans are in South Africa to escape an economic meltdown in their home country, where job losses are a daily occurrence.
Currently, unemployment in Zimbabwe is estimated at 90 percent.
With millions of Africa’s jobless heading south to seek better fortunes, South Africa has been forced to strictly reserve 60 percent of its jobs for locals.
Tension has been building up in the Rainbow Nation, as South Africa is popularly known, as thousands of its citizens demand jobs.
Many Zimbabweans living in South Africa, most of whom have no permits, are therefore failing to secure decent jobs hence are forced to do menial work like cleaning or resorting to crime to make ends meet. Pretoria has for some time now been deporting illegal immigrants.
Since last year, 10 433 Zimbabweans have been deported.
Mozambicans form the largest portion of the deportees at 11 534, while Lesotho and Malawi contributed 6 045 and 3 257 deportations, respectively.
Last year, South Africa spent over R33 million or US$2,5 million in accommodation and transportation costs.
South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs spokesperson, Thabo Mokgola, said the deportations were in line with the Immigration Act, which they were implementing in a non-discriminatory manner.
“Anyone found to have obtained any enabling document in a fraudulent manner is dealt with according to the legislative prescripts,” he said.
In the past, deported immigrants have sneaked back into the country through undesignated ports of entry, with many risking their lives by crossing through the crocodile-infested Limpopo River. Financial Gazette