1 million Zimbabweans at risk of deportation from South Africa

IDC member Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) is concerned about the large numbers of Zimbabweans who will become vulnerable to arrest and deportation this month when the South African Government lifts a moratorium on deportation. Particular concern is held that there may be little consideration of the protection needs for children and other vulnerable groups of people who may become caught up in the deportation process.

‘The detection of undocumented foreigners in South Africa has largely been informal and impromptu’
Kaajal Ramajathan-Keogh, Lawyers for Human Rights.

This moratorium on deportation has been in place since April 2009 when Home Affairs took the decision not to carry out any further deportations to Zimbabwe for a defined period.  The moratorium was supposed to be implemented together with a special dispensation for Zimbabweans to be able to regularise their immigration through the ‘Zimbabwean Documentation Process’ (ZDP), aiming to regularise the position of Zimbabweans in South Africa by dealing with special applications for work, study and business permits from Zimbabweans.

However, this special dispensation was only implemented from September to 31 December 2010.  Any Zimbabwean who failed to successfully apply for one of the available permits during this time and will find themselves undocumented on 1 August may be legitimately deported for not having any authorisation to remain in the country.   Of the estimated 1.5 million Zimbabweans currently living in South Africa, 133 810 (out of the 275 514 who applied) have so far been approved for the ZDP permits, and 130 000 have valid asylum seeker or refugee permits.  This leaves more than one million people currently at risk of arrest and deportation.

 

For full details, see the LHR press release.