Hundreds of illegal Zimbabwean migrants are to be deported from South Africa on Wednesday following the forced repatriation of 140 ex-prisoners this weekend, state media has reported.
The official Chronicle newspaper said that 950 Zimbabwean migrants who had broken South African immigration regulations had been identified at Lindela Holding Centre in Johannesburg.
Zimbabwe’s consul-general to South Africa Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro told the paper on Saturday that “most of the immigrants at the transit camp will be sent home on Wednesday [this] week”.
A total of 140 Zimbabweans, who had served jail time in South Africa, were being sent home on two trucks with a police escort at the weekend. Their offences range from housebreaking to murder, according to the Chronicle.
South Africa has been a destination of choice for decades for Zimbabweans seeking jobs away from home, but migrants have not always crossed legally into the country.
Fact-checking organisation @AfricaCheck in 2013 disputed claims that there were between two and three million Zimbabweans living in South Africa, saying that “the numbers cannot be substantiated”.
Last year, the South African authorities frequently deported Zimbabweans in large groups of several hundred at a time. The state-controlled Herald newspaper reported in June that a group of 796 Zimbabwean male deportees had arrived at the Beitbridge border post on a single day.