SOUTH Africa has deported 421 Zimbabweans who had been stuck at the Lindelani Repatriations Holding Centre in Johannesburg for between three to eight months.
Zimbabwe’s Consul-General Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro said the Zimbabweans were deported on Thursday.
It is understood that the deportees are part of close to 960 Zimbabweans who are being kept at the centre amid reports that South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs has no funds to deport them.
Reasons for deportation include overstaying and lack of proper travel documents.
Some of those deported would have finished serving jail terms for various offences committed in that country.
The Consul-General said under normal circumstances immigrants should be kept at the detention centre for three weeks.
The latest group comprising 397 men and 24 women was brought into the country by road in a convoy of five buses through the Beitbridge border post.
“We have started identifying and documenting our people at Lindelani holding centre and have engaged the home affairs department on the need to move them. These efforts have paid dividends and we are left with around 600 people. You will note that they (Home Affairs) stopped deporting people in October last year and only resumed deportations in February,” said Mukonoweshuro.
He said they would continue engaging South Africa to ensure that Zimbabweans are quickly moved out of the holding centre.
Lindelani is one of South Africa’s largest facilities where most undocumented migrants are taken to determine their status before possible deportation.
Early this year, it was reported that the Home Affairs department had no funds to transport the immigrants to their respective countries, forcing authorities to prioritise deportation of those who would be seriously ill.
A total of 50 sick Zimbabweans were deported from Lindelani Holding Centre in January and February this year and the majority of them had acute respiratory infections.
Last week, hundreds of Zimbabweans volunteered to return to Zimbabwe following the outbreak of xenophobic attacks, mainly in Durban and Johannesburg.
The number of people seeking assistance from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) upon being deported from South Africa by road through Beitbridge border post dropped by 28 percent at the end of 2014.
IOM said earlier this year, between January and December last year they offered assistance to 18,368 people compared to 27,509 in 2013.
The government is managing a reception and support centre in Beitbridge where they provide post-return humanitarian assistance to returned migrants so that they do not become stranded and fall into immediate vulnerability.
They also help the deportees with food and temporary shelter for returned unaccompanied minors.