SOUTH AFRICA'S Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni has urged Zimbabweans to be patient on permits and not to panic saying his department would make "an announcement on how this process will be handled".

According to remarks on the department's website, Apleni said South Africa remained committed to secure the legal protection of refugees as provided for under international law and recognised in the country's entrenched Bill of Rights.

He said all refugees should be allowed the opportunity to return to their respective countries of origin to assist with the
development of their nations or at the least to resume their nationalities wherever they wish to remain.

"It is in this context that in 2009 South Africa granted a special dispensation to over 200 000 Zimbabwean nationals who were in the country illegally because of the political situation in their country at the time. Zimbabwean nationals who received these special permits in 2009 have only to wait patiently, and with no panic, for the Department of Home Affairs to make an announcement on how this process will be handled," Apleni said.

However, most Zimbabweans in the neighbouring country are in panic mode after the introduction of immigration regulations that would see them and other foreign nationals who overstay, being banned from entering South Africa. Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals who overstay will be banned from entering South Africa as it tightens immigration regulations.

All along, those who overstayed were allowed to re-enter South Africa and apply for permits and visas after being made to pay fines. Those who overstay in South Africa would be banned for a period ranging from one to five years.

The South African government has released a list of critical skills that country needs wherein foreigners are qualified to apply for work visas, but the challenge would be that most Zimbabweans living in that country have no special skills.


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