Scores of foreigners arrested for violating the country’s immigrations laws who are languishing in prison have criticized Zimbabwe for failing to deport them on time.
The prisoners from various African countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Somalia and South Africa told VOA Studio 7 they have spent periods ranging from three months to two years in remand prison without an idea of when the authorities will deport them.
Emmanuel Kenge from the DRC was arrested and detained together with his young brother and sister last November for being in the country illegally. They claim immigration officers have constantly been telling them that they are working on modalities to deport them.
Since November, they have been languishing in Harare Remand Prison.
Solomon Sambo from South Africa, who was arrested en-route to South America, is worried his family does not know that he is stuck in a Zimbabwean jail. He wants to be deported to his country immediately.
Hasan Yusuf from Somalia is bitter that he was simply arrested for asking for asylum. He said he has not been allowed to call his family for all the three months he has been in jail.
Zimbabwe Prison Services deputy commissioner for administration, Agrey Machingauta said it was the immigrations department’s responsibility to deport the prisoners.
Immigration boss, Clemence Masangano, could not be reached for comment. Amnesty International Zimbabwe director Cousin Zilala said government should not detain people for long periods unnecessarily.
Zilala said it was wrong for authorities to arrest foreigners seeking asylum in the country, adding many Zimbabweans have been granted refugee status in many countries around the world.
There are 274 foreigners in Zimbabwean jails with 126 serving their terms while others await trial or deportation.