THERE is reportedly commotion and crisis at the Beitbridge border post as Zimbabweans returning to South Africa after the festive holiday are reportedly only being given five days to be in that country, including those with pending permit applications, it has been learnt.
The national administrator for the Migrant Workers’ Association South Africa (MWA-SA) Ezra Maplanka yesterday told the Southern Eye they had received a number of reports since Saturday of people being given a limited stay in South Africa.
“Since yesterday (Saturday) we have been receiving reports that people are getting five days or so stamped on their passports, as they return from Zimbabwe,” he said.
“This is not what South Africa’s Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba said. The minister said people can travel freely during the festive season and should be given 90 days for that.”
Maplanka said this was happening even to those awaiting permits, who had proof that they had applied for the documents.
“We are calling on all those who are having such problems to visit our offices with evidence of their passports that have been stamped with five days, as has been alleged,” he continued.
“We do not have evidence as yet.
“We are saying as from tomorrow (today) we will be meeting other stakeholders, but once we get evidence we will be visiting the Home Affairs department to query on their behalf.”
Maplanka said while the Home Affairs department had said people were free to travel between the two countries, it was unfortunate that they were being restricted at the border.
“We will have to find out from the government of South Africa if there is breakdown in communication between Home Affairs and the Department of Immigration,” he said.
Due to the situation at Beitbridge border post, many Zimbabweans fearing they will not be given adequate days are now going to South Africa through Botswana.
An official from MWA-SA, Ngqabutho Mabhena, is likely to travel to Beitbridge to assess the situation and receive reports from returning migrants.
MWA-SA advised the affected migrants to visit its offices in Johannesburg central business district with passports showing given days so as to enable officials to engage the department.