THE Migrant Workers’ Association in South Africa (MWA-SA) has expressed concern over a surge in deportations of Zimbabweans from the neighbouring country following weeks of violent xenophobic attacks targeting foreign nationals.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
President Jacob Zuma recently brewed controversy when he appeared to blame other African countries for the xenophobic attacks after he questioned why foreign nationals are not in their countries, but flocking to South Africa.
South Africa Home Affairs authorities have indicated that they will adopt a tough approach to block illegal immigrants from flocking to that country.
Butholezwe Nyathi, the MWA-SA co-ordinator said the statements have sparked deportations.
“As people might be aware, deportations have started on a serious note. This is in reaction to the issues raised by South Africans regarding the number of foreigners, especially the illegal/undocumented foreigners,” Nyathi said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, there is little we can do in our individual or organisational capacity to stop that process. Every country has a right and governments have an obligation to control the immigration activities. We have to respect that as part of the right of South Africa and South Africans.”
About 421 Zimbabweans were deported from South Africa in April after spending months at the Lindelani Repatriation Centre in Johannesburg.
Lindelani is one of South Africa’s largest facilities where most undocumented migrants are taken to determine their status before possible deportation.
“I must also mention that the ear we used to get from the South African Home Affairs officials is no longer there, I honestly don’t know what demotivated them. We still get responses here and there and know that those officials can be re-engaged, but it is no longer the same, “he said.
Nyathi said MWA-SA was, however, engaging authorities to force employers not to withhold salaries and other benefits of deported Zimbabweans and others awaiting deportation.
“The MWA-SA seeks to intervene in ensuring that employers will not keep people’s money after people have been arrested and deported.
Through our programme called deportation link, we seek to work with the South African officials to recover benefits due to any arrested or deported illegal immigrant,” he said.