25,300 Zimbabweans deported from South Africa, Botswana

By KITSEPILE NYATHI in Harare | Thursday, May 9 2013 at 17:41

Botswana and South Africa deported a combined 25,300 illegal Zimbabwean immigrants between January and April, reports said on Thursday.

The figures were a major rise from the 17,023 immigrants deported during the same period of last year.

South Africa, which suspended the deportation of Zimbabwean illegal immigrants between 2009 and 2011, accounted for 13,600 removals.

"On average, about 1,000 people are deported from Botswana while between 200 and 300 are deported from South Africa every day," police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Christopher Ngwenya said.

It is estimated that close to two million Zimbabweans have sought refuge in South Africa following an economic crisis that began in 1997.

South Africa had suspended the deportations to give the undocumented Zimbabweans an opportunity to regularise their stay by applying for work, business and study permits.

But only 275,762 applications were processed before the deportations resumed.

Zimbabwe’s Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi told state media on Thursday that negotiations with South Africa for an extension of the documentation would resume once his country holds elections sometime this year.