Pretoria – The Department of Home Affairs has reiterated the need for Zimbabweans seeking South African permits for business, study and work to carry the correct supporting documents when they visit the departments’ offices.
There has been much confusion about which documents to carry along to complete the process, which has led to many Zimbabweans being turned away after standing in long queues to get their documentation.
The permits are being issued by the Department of Home Affairs, to qualifying Zimbabweans free of charge, in a process aimed at ensuring Zimbabweans comply with South Africa’s immigration laws and lead normal lives, while ending their misery of living under constant fear of deportation.
However, this process does not replace the normal processes related to the application for asylum.
Director General Mkhuseli Apleni on Thursday explained that according to the agreement between Pretoria and Harare, the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria and its consulates will assist with the issuance of valid travel documents to Zimbabwean nationals residing in South Africa.
Zimbabweans would then take the travel document together with supporting documents to any of the 46 regional Home Affairs offices in all the nine provinces.
There they would be given a form and have their finger prints taken. Applicants will be informed via sms of the status of their application.
Explaining what is meant by “supporting documents” Apleni said: “If you’re a domestic worker, your employer must submit an affidavit (stating employment). If you are doing business you need to produce proof of your business operations.”
He called on South African businesses and learning institutions to provide Zimbabwean students and employees with affidavits verifying their status.
“In this regard, we wish to assure South African businesses and employers that no punitive measures will follow such declaration of their employees.” This is in regard to work permits for South Africa.
Reports indicate that most Zimbabweans were going to the home affairs’ offices to enquire about the process without having the necessary documentation – which has led to chaos.
The department’s data has indicated that at its Johannesburg Harrisson office alone, 1100 stood in queues only to enquire about the documentation process, with only 141 lodging applications.
This is compared to the 116 enquires in Vereeniging, 158 in Randfontein and 197 in Soweto. Germiston had 120 enquiries while Springs had 158 enquires.
Apleni said their regional offices were strained because people where going there without the necessary supporting documents, which then caused confusion.
Over 200 home affairs officials have been deployed, both at headquarters and throughout the provinces, to facilitate this process.
However this number may increase depending on the volumes of applicants who will come forward to the home affairs offices where dedicated lanes will be set for this purpose.
The department will also implement a queue management system to ensure that officials attend to as many people as possible, said Apleni. This in addition to the monitoring system that has been put in place to identify problems in the regions.
The documentation and amnesty process will end on December 31. Despite concerns about the short time allowed for the permit application process, Mr Apleni did not indicate whether there would be an extension.