A humanitarian story: Zimbabwean nationals wait in long queues at Home affairs in Rissik Street in Johannesburg. Picture: Gallo
An estimated 100,000 Zimbabweans still need passports to enable them to receive permits to stay in South Africa, People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty (Passop) said on Wednesday.
"As we were monitoring centres towards the end of the deadline we found people lacked Zimbabwean passports and documents," said spokesman Braam Hanekom.
Passop estimated that about 100,000 of the 250,000 Zimbabweans who applied for permits during the recent Zimbabwean Dispensation Project were still waiting for them.
Hanekom told Sapa this was a "moderate" estimate calculated by Passop during visits to home affairs centres while people were applying for their permits.
"These Zimbabweans have clearly shown that they intend on legalising their stay in South Africa, but now find themselves in limbo and at the mercy of an unscrupulous Zimbabwean government," he said.
The majority of them had receipts proving they had paid for their passports.
Hanekom said Zimbabwean identity documents were no longer being printed due to a "mystery fire" that occurred in the Zimbabwean passport printing office in Harare on Friday.
"Passop is neither surprised nor amused by this latest development, as it is sadly in line with the ongoing impunity shown by the Zimbabwean government."
He said Zimbabweans had paid R750 per passport which was half of an average Zimbabwean's monthly wage in South Africa.
Passop had "confronted" the Zimbabwean Consulate in South Africa but they were not forthcoming with any information regarding the situation, Hanekom said.
The Sowetan newspaper on Wednesday reported that Zimbabwe's consul-general in South Africa Chris Mapanga had denied reports that the passport production centre in Harare had been gutted by fire.
He said the building had only experienced an electric fault and "everything is perfectly in order".
"There is no story here. It's a lie," Mapanga said. - Sapa