South Africa: SA Denies Beitbridge Border Guards Blocking Zimbabweans Going Home

The Department of Home Affairs says no Zimbabwean national is being blocked from returning to their native country.

This after there were claims suggesting that border guards were turning back Zimbabweans who want to go back home when they reach the Beitbridge border post in Limpopo.

But the department has since provided clarity on the matter, saying the guards were just doing access control duties.

“This means that they need to be fingerprinted and have their demographic details taken,” the department said in a statement on Monday.

“The border guards have been trained on border control processes. One of the modules in their training included the process to follow when people want to leave the country but do not have enabling documents. There is no way South Africa will refuse anybody from going back home,” the department continued.

‘Waltz through our border’

The department, however, also pointed out that some Zimbabwean nationals have refused to be documented on their departure as “they believe that now that they are going back home, nobody needs to ask them any questions at our border”.

It further said no person was allowed to move in and out of the country without it being recorded anywhere.

“Nobody will be allowed to just waltz through our border to and from without being documented. There are no exceptions in this regard, whether you go through a land port, sea port or an airport. This is regardless of your nationality,” Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said.

Last week, Motsoaledi told Parliament that fraudulent Home Affairs officials were selling the country to the lowest bidder.

READ MORE: ZEP legal battle: Motsoaledi refutes claim Home Affairs is running out of money

The minister warned that “there will be no country remaining” if such fraud continues.

Earlier this month, the Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEPs) deadline was extended to 30 June 2023.

Motsoaledi made the decision in order to give the permit holders an opportunity to apply for one or other visas provided for in the Immigration Act they may qualify for.

During this period, no ZEP holder can be arrested, detained, or ordered to depart for not having a valid exemption permit during the grace period.

Zimbabwean nationals are also permitted to enter into or depart from South Africa, according to a government gazette.

Foreign religious leaders

Motsoaledi also recently confirmed that the department has amended its legislation to provide for the issuance of visitor’s visas, instead of work visas, to foreign religious workers.

The amendment means that there is no avenue for these religious workers to migrate to permanent residence status.

This was based on the findings of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, which undertook a study about the impact foreign-led churches have on South African citizens in 2016.

“We are saying they must come only as visitors, but as visitors who can perform work. In order to acquire relevant visas, foreign religious leaders must follow due process and meet requirements in terms of the Immigration Act, 2002,” he told the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs last Tuesday.

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