BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
ZIMBABWEAN immigrants have been spared the agony of being deported from South Africa for having expired visas after authorities in that country extended their expiry date to October this year.
Hundreds of Zimbabweans have been making their way back home in recent weeks after losing jobs or other sources of income owing to the COVID-19 induced socio-economic
In a notice yesterday, South Africa’s Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi extended the validity period of legally-issued visas which expired during the lockdown period.
The notice read: “The directions extend the initial validity period from July 31, 2020 to October 31, 2020. This means that lawfully issued visas which expired from February 15 and during the period of the lockdown are deemed to be valid until the end of October 2020.”
The exact number of Zimbabweans in South Africa is not known though estimates put the figure at plus or minus three million.
In recent years, the neighbouring country has been taking a tough approach to regulate the number of foreigners.
In May, a 40km fence was constructed at a cost of nearly R40 million at the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe to restrict illegal entry into that country. It was destroyed within days, reports said.
Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals who overstay in South Africa are now banned for a period ranging from one to five years from entering the neighbouring country.
Over-stayers were all along allowed to re-enter South Africa and apply for permits and visas after paying fines.
First and second-time offenders who overstay for less than 30 days are banned for one and two years respectively while those that overstay for a period exceeding 30 days are banned for five years.
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