Zim govt pleads with SA to suspend deportations. South Africa, which hosts an estimated two million Zimbabweans living and working there, has deported 630 Zimbabweans since the outbreak of the pandemic in March for violating lockdown regulations and other offences, according to official figures.
Zimbabwe’s immigration department is engaging its South African counterpart with a view to suspending mass deportations of citizens domiciled there until the Covid-19 pandemic subsides. The authorities in Zimbabwe blame the deportations for the spike in Covid-19 cases, which have risen to 2 124 from slightly more than 100 in a month.
The majority of the local cases are transmissions from returnees deported from South Africa and those crossing the border from illegal points.
For instance, on Wednesday alone, Zimbabwe recorded 214 new coronavirus cases with 124 of them being citizens either deported or voluntarily repatriated from South Africa.
Zimbabwe’s immigration department spokesperson Canisia Magaya confirmed they are now engaging their South African counterparts to find ways of temporarily halting the deportations.
“Since the outbreak of Covid-19, Zimbabwe has received a total of 7 845 repatriated citizens from Botswana and South Africa. Six hundred and thirty (630) Zimbabweans were deported from South Africa for various offences,” Magaya said.
“Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, the Department of Immigration held meetings on a monthly or ad hoc basis, with respective immigration authorities, as part of the routine, mutual interactions. “Obviously, these bilateral engagements and communications which have continued during the Covid-19 times, are done in line with the Standard Operating Procedures.
“Due to the border closures and other restrictive measures which have been put in place to address Covid-19, we have however resorted to virtual interactions, particularly for the relaying of information to facilitate both repatriations and deportations.”
Some of those deported from South Africa have been escaping from the various quarantine centres across the country, spreading the virus.
For instance, last week two brothers who had been deported from South Africa escaped from isolation at a hotel in Beitbridge soon after testing positive for Covid-19 and went on to infect eight relatives at their village home, 90 kilometres east of border town.
Besides deportations, the Zimbabwean authorities are also struggling to contain surges in border jumpers and smugglers who are compounding the situation.
Source | Bulawayo24