AT least 380 Zimbabweans and Malawians were recently arrested in South Africa for allegedly violating the immigration laws.
They failed to produce documentation authorising their stay in South Africa when police raided a 21-storey building they were occupying at Hillbrow, Johannesburg.
South Africa Police Services (SAPS) established that the 21-storey building in question had since been hijacked from the rightful owner by three criminals.
SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said that three suspects — two women and a man — were arrested for hijacking the building.
Brig Peters said the arrested Malawians and Zimbabweans were taken for processing and verification of their stay in SA.
“A total of 380 (353 males and 27 females) undocumented nationals from Malawi and Zimbabwe, including those found during roadblocks and in other operations, were taken in for processing and verification of their stay in the country,” he said.
“To this end, six Malawian nationals — four juveniles and two preg_nant women — were released pending their appearance before immigration authorities to prepare for their direct deportation.
“Meanwhile, police were also able to trace 124 suspects on whom warrants of arrests were executed for a range of crimes.”
Brig Peters said roadblocks were mounted at strategic points in all the five districts in the province and saw a few unroadworthy cars being impounded and fines issued for contravention of road traffic regulations.
At least 2 865 Zimbabweans were arrested in South Africa for committing various criminal offences between 2016 and this year, a situation that left Zimbabwe with the highest number of arrested nationals in the neighbouring country.
According to statistics by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department posted last weekend, Zimbabwe had the highest number of arrested nationals during the past three years.
The statistics were posted recently by the outgoing Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba.
SAPS arrested the 2 865 Zimbabweans in the period in question, while Nigerians were second with 765 arrests.
SAPS also arrested 420 Malawians, 334 Tanzanians and 91 Ugandans.
The highest number of Zimbabweans were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, while others were arrested for theft and possession of counterfeit goods.
At least 691 of the Zimbabweans were arrested for murder, while 37 were nabbed for bribing South African officers.
Meanwhile, more than 30 Zimbabwean women suspected to be victims of human trafficking were also rescued by South African police from brothels in eMalahleni, formerly Witbank, in Mpumalanga Province where their captors used them as se_x slaves.
According to reports, the Zimbabweans were part of a group of 50 victims, among them males, from other countries which included the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria.