With the July 31 cutoff point for the regularization of Zimbabweans in South Africa just six weeks away, many Zimbabwean nationals living and working there are still waiting for documentation needed to complete the process, particularly new passports.
The South African Department of Home Affairs extended the cutoff date to the last day of July so officials in Harare could issue some 116,000 passports to Zimbabweans who needed them to complete South African four-year residency applications.
About 250,000 Zimbabweans applied for such permits under a special dispensation. The permits will allow them to regularize their stay for work, business or studies.
But estimates of the number of Zimbabweans in the country run as high as 3 million, so an unknown but very large number could face deportation after the cutoff date.
Advocacy groups say the Harare government has not produced enough passports and many Zimbabweans in South Africa have not had word from their consulate by SMS text message or on a website, which officials say Zimbabweans should regularly visit.
Spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa of the South African Department of Home Affairs said Pretoria and Harare are on track to process all permit applications by July 31.
Mamoepa told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo that deportations will resume once the permit process has been completed.