The resumed deportation of undocumented Zimbabweans by the Department of Home Affairs has resulted in a complaint being lodged with the parliamentary portfolio committee on home affairs by refugee rights organisation People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (Passop) and the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF).
Passop and the ZEF on Monday said Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni misled Parliament and civil society on September 20.
The organisations say Apleni told Parliament that once the Zimbabwean documentation project (DZP) was completed, a report would be compiled and presented to the minister of Home Affairs, and as from December last year, until this process was completed, no Zimbabweans would be deported.
Although the report has not been published, Apleni issued an internal directive on September 27 instructing officials to deport undocumented Zimbabweans “with immediate effect”.
With hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans (unofficial figures estimate up to 1 million) entering South Africa following the economic meltdown in the north, South Africa placed a moratorium on deportation of Zimbabweans in 2008. In September 2009, the government launched the ZDP to give undocumented Zimbabweans the opportunity to apply for official documents.
The deadline for the ZDP was December 31. Last week Home Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said: “Zimbabweans who did not take advantage of the ZDP and those who are coming here illegally will be subject to immigration laws.
“Those who did not apply and those who are coming now will be arrested and deported. We are not targeting Zimbabweans alone, we go out there looking for illegal immigrants,” he said.
He said the moratorium on the deportation of undocumented immigrants from Zimbabwe was put in place in 2008 and was lifted in March 2010.
But Passop director Braam Hanekom said this was not communicated to them.
Hanekom yesterday said they were “shocked” to discover that Home Affairs had deported 55000 foreigners during “the last financial year”.
Chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on home affairs Margaret Maunye confirmed receipt of the Passop and ZEF letter of complaint.
According to Hanekom, 600 Zimbabweans have been deported “in the first two days of last week”. – WCN