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Looming South African Documentation Deadline Raises Prospect of Deportations

Democratic Alliance official Annette Lovemore said that if applications filed by Zimbabweans giving up asylum status are not approved by the December 31 deadline, they could face deportation back to Zimbabwe

South African shadow minister of Home Affairs Annette Lovemore of the opposition Democratic Alliance has warned of a looming crisis for Zimbabweans who renounced their political asylum status in order to apply for four-year residency permits under the documentation program now unfolding in the country.

Lovemore said that if the applications filed by such Zimbabweans are not approved with issuance of documents by the December 31 deadline, they could face deportation back to Zimbabwe.

She also cited reports from the Lawyers for Human Rights in South Africa of Zimbabweans going to police stations seeking to avail themselves of an amnesty for use of false documents being charged and arrested.

Attorney Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh of the Refugee and Migrant Rights Project of the Lawyers for Human Rights has sought an extension of the deadline to give Zimbabweans and Pretoria time to complete all permits.

She told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo that Lawyers for Human Rights has engaged the South African Home Affairs Department on the question of Zimbabweans in this situation.

But Home Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said Zimbabweans in possession of asylum permits do not need to change them, and denied Zimbabweans were being arrested when trying to surrender false documents.

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