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Many Zimbabweans in South Africa Fail to Surmount Hurdles to Legal Residence

  • Benedict Nhlapho
  • Tatenda Gumbo

Many thousands of Zimbabweans have eagerly responded to the call by South African authorities for them to come forward and establish themselves as legal residents before a December 31 deadline

Week one of South Africa's crash program to issue work, study and residency documents to many thousands of Zimbabweans in the country has been marred by frustration and disappointment on the part of many of those seeking to legalize their status who were turned away for lack of all the required paperwork.

Many thousands of Zimbabweans have eagerly responded to the call by South African authorities for them to come forward and establish themselves as legal residents before a December 31 deadline.

But many are telling stories of disappointment saying they have been sent away by officials of the Home Affairs Department for failing to meet documentary requirements, reported correspondent Benedict Nhlapho.

Elsewhere, Home Affairs officials in a meeting on Thursday with Zimbabwean representatives, decided to extend amnesty to Zimbabweans who surrender fraudulent South African identity documents.

But the penalties for holding fraudulent documents will also be stiffened after the December 31st deadline for Zimbabweans and other foreigners to legalize their status.

Home Affairs Deputy General Mkuseki Apleni said in the press conference that the procedures for dealing with false identities which may have been used to obtain driving licenses or bank accounts are still under consideration, but he emphasized that reports that individuals with false documents will be prosecuted are not true.

Apleni stressed Zimbabweans should surrender false documents in exchange for legitimate documentation.

Zimbabwe Exiles Forum Director Gabriel Shumba, among the expatriate advocates who met with Home Affairs officials in Pretoria, told VOA reporter Tatenda Gumbo that authorities assured the Zimbabwean representatives that the changes were not intended to threaten immigrants, but to provide an avenue to legalize their status.

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