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Nearly 1 227 out of 1 841 Zimbabweans deported from South Africa are back in SA

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Nearly 1 227 out of 1 841 Zimbabweans deported from South Africa so far for failing to regularise their documents have reportedly trooped back illegally, state controlled Herald reported.

Investigations by the paper since the deportations started on October 12, reveal that about two thirds of the deportees turned down any form of assistance from the International Organisation for Migration.

An official who declined to be named said most deportees were released from IOM facilities after convincing administrators that they had enough money to travel to their rural homes.

"However, they find their way back to South Africa through illegal crossing points while others do so under the nose of security personnel manning both sides of South Africa and Zimbabwean borders," said the official.

Since the deportations started, the Department of Immigration at Beitbridge Border Post has been receiving an average of 80 people a day on less busy days. The deportations marked the end of an amnesty for illegal Zimbabwean immigrants staying in South Africa that ran from May 5, 2009 to July 31, 2011.

Over 275 000 applications from Zimbabweans wishing to regularise their stay south of the Limpopo have been processed while several others were turned down and some are pending.

The first batch of 261 were brought in from Johannesburg in four buses under heavy security. The largest number of deportations was on Tuesday when 367 Zimbabweans were rounded up from Limpopo and Gauteng provinces.

The record high figure of Zimbabweans deported from South Africa was on February 13 in 2007 when 1 600 people were brought in a convoy of 16 luxury buses.

Assistant Regional Immigration officer responsible for compliance and enforcement Mr Francis Mabika confirmed the deportations yesterday. He said most people repatriated were from Gauteng province's Lindelani Holding Centre. Gauteng deports people twice per week.

"We have received a total of 1 841 deportations from South Africa between October 12 and 28. The highest number we processed was on Tuesday when we had 367 people. A total of 285 came from Lindelani Holding Centre while another 90 were from Limpopo Province.

"These people were rounded up (and) thoroughly vetted before being repatriated back to Zimbabwe.

"They are being handed over to us at the International Organisation for Migration reception centre in Beitbridge, where we also vet them to verify their nationalities," he said.

At the IOM centre, the deportees are being offered overnight accommodation, food and transport to their homes while those who opt to go home using their own means are released. The IOM reception centre has the capacity to hold 600 people at any given time.

Mr Mabika warned people against irregular migration as they risked their lives and prosecution.

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