Nearly 15 000 Zimbabweans were deported from SA between last October and March, according to a joint study report released by the Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT) and People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty (Passop).
The report, titled Perils and Pitfalls: Migrants and Deportation in South Africa, states that between October and December 2011 the Beitbridge border saw 7 755 deportees. An additional 7 177 Zimbabweans were deported between January and March.
It also highlights concerns about legal requirements for the detention and incarceration around deportation of migrants – pointing out discrepancies and irregularities.
The report states that it is “costly to the Pretoria administration” to continue deporting foreigners considering that “between 2009 and 2010, the immigration control bill was as high as R1.8 billion”.
Up to 1.4 million of SA’s refugees and asylum seekers are Zimbabwean.
The study used 10 trained researchers and “monitors” who followed up on cases, gathered information and observed immigration raids at the Lindela Repatriation Centre outside Krugersdorp.
Professor Brian Raftopolous from SPT said people were being deported without proper procedures.
The report highlights that SA law does not require asylum seekers and refugees to be detained, that immigration officers are not required to detain illegal foreigners and that officers must use discretion when determining whether someone should be detained.
“Our research showed… the opposite is the case: that officers’ discretion is in favour of incarceration and that where documentation is not immediately available to prove legitimate status, the suspect illegal is automatically detained,” the report said.
Seven refugees or asylum seekers who had been deported were interviewed. Five were arrested while in possession of the necessary documentation, the report said.