Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
The South African government will soon be deporting Zimbabwean illegal immigrants every fortnight as they heighten efforts to decongest Lindela Transit Holding Centre in Johannesburg, an official has said.
Zimbabwe’s Consular General to South Africa, Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro, made the revelations last Friday after assessing the deportation processes of the second batch of 800 Zimbabweans who arrived in the country via Beitbridge Border Post by train.
The all male group arrived in a 13 coaches train escorted by 104 police officers, 10 immigration officers, 13 PRASA security guards and the Director of Lindela Holding Centre, Mr JayJay Jackson.
“We have agreed in principle with the department of home affairs that no immigrants will be kept at Lindela for over three months. They have promised to deport men only by train after every two weeks.”
The holding centre has a carrying capacity of 4000 people including those from various countries.
“At the moment we are left with around 694 Zimbabweans at Lindela including women and 175 blocked ex-convicts who are still being vetted for various crimes by the police,” he said.
He said they had also got assurance from the Home Affairs Department that women and children would only be sent home by buses.
The first group of 796 (all male) arrived in the country via Beitbridge border post on 3 June.
Mr Mukonoweshuro said the train was introduced as a way of de-congesting the swelling numbers of illegal immigrants at the Lindela camp.
“The process has been met with minimal challenges, but we are satisfied with the high level of co-operation between border authorities from both countries though there is a need to tighten verification methods when people get on or off the train” he said.
He said it was pleasing to note that deportees were being provided with food, accommodation and counselling, information on safe migration processes, medical treatment especially for those with critical protection needs and travelling warrants to their respective homes at the government run reception and support centre.
Mr Mukonoweshuro reiterated the need for Zimbabweans travelling to South Africa to always ensure that they were properly documented.
“Those travelling with children must be aware of the new requirements of long birth certificates and the requisite affidavits if only one of them (parents) is travelling with a minor,” he said.