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Rights Groups Urges South African Government to Extend Documentation Deadline

  • Tatenda Gumbo

People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty said it told the Home Affairs Department that confusion among Zimbabweans seeking documents is too great to call an end to the exercise in just another two weeks

Advocates for Zimbabweans living in South Africa have urged the government to extend a July 31 deadline to conclude a residency documentation program, saying there has been much confusion about how those seeking documents can finally obtain them.

People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty or Passop said it told the Department of Home Affairs that the level of confusion among Zimbabweans seeking documents is too great to call an end to the exercise in just another two weeks.

In a letter to Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the organization said that "given the proximity of the Zimbabwean Dispensation Project deadline and the large amount of permits yet to be issued, there is a need to extend the current deadline."

The organization is calling for a two month extension of the process.

While Passop officials await a response from Pretoria, the organization is urging Zimbabweans to go to Home Affairs offices to determine the status of their residency permit applications, or Zimbabwe’s consulate to seek their new passports.

Home Affairs officials told VOA that Zimbabweans should wait for an SMS text message updating their application status and informing them if a passport or fingerprints must be submitted, or scheduling receipt of a permit.

But Passop Director Braam Hanekom said that with just 9 business days left and 120,000 permits waiting to be distributed, the Home Affairs Department will need to send about 10,000 texts a day to reach all those still waiting for their documents.

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