By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
05 August 2014
As South African-based Zimbabweans await Pretoria’s decision on their special residence permits, community leaders have said their situation has reached a ‘crisis moment’ with some of the documents having already expired leaving people desperate and vulnerable.
The report comes after South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said he was going to consult cabinet before announcing a decision on whether the permits would be renewed and if so how. Gigaba said this after meeting his Zimbabwean counterpart, Kembo Mohadi, who was in the country to negotiate for the renewal of the special documents which were given to about 250,000 Zimbabweans in 2009.
Last week community leaders expressed confidence and hope that it was only a matter of time before anxiety ended and that the permits would be renewed from South Africa. But this week they said the situation was getting ‘desperate’ with some people being forced out of their jobs while others were being detained because their documents had already expired.
Community leaders said so serious is the situation that some people were now taking advantage and selling fake permits to desperate people. Reports said some people were forking out as much as R13, 000 to bogus permit agents.
Zimbabwe Community in South Africa Chairman Nqgabutho Mabhena said many of their members were in ‘limbo’ and were ‘confused.’ He said: ‘In some situations some people have gone to the home affairs department to seek extensions to their permits but they have all been turned away.’
Mabhena said those who travel to Zimbabwe because of an emergency, and whose permits had expired, were now being accused of overstaying and immigration officers at the Beitbridge border post were imposing ban stamps on their passports.
Zimbabwe Migrants International communications director Daniel Muzenda said some of their members were now detained at Lindela detention center. However Muzenda said no deportations have been reported yet.
He said: ‘We don’t know why they are doing it but I can confirm that people have been detained while others have been forced out of their jobs. We saw an increase in this soon after the meeting between Gigaga and Mohadi.’
Muzenda said they have already written to Gigaba’s office to seek clarification but so far they have not yet received any response.
Both Mabhena and Muzenda urged their members not to buy permits from any agents and to wait for Gigaba’s announcement which is expected next week.