THE Zimbabwe consulate in Johannesburg, South Africa, has closed doors with immediate effect after a COVID-19 scare, heaping more problems to thousands of Zimbabweans wanting temporary travel documents .
By NQOBANI NDLOVU
The processing of repatriation certificates of deceased Zimbabweans has also been suspended and now done electronically.
“Members of the public are hereby further advised of the temporary suspension of the issuance of TTDs [temporary travel documents] and repatriation certificates with immediate effect,” the Zimbabwe consulate said in a notice.
“This precautionary measure has been taken against the background of a suspected COVID-19 case at the mission, hence the need to allow time for thorough medical investigations and decontamination of the institution before reopening doors to our valued clients.”
A huge number of Zimbabweans affected by an extended COVID-19 lockdown in the neighbouring South Africa have been registering to be repatriated back home.
Reports show that Zimbabwean immigrants in that country have not been spared the harsh impacts of South Africa’s extended lockdown, which has left many with no source of income.
A network of Zimbabweans under the banner the Zimbabwe Community in South Africa (Zim-Com SA) recently sent an SOS for food and other basics to cater for the hungry fellow countrymen.
Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans fled their homeland to seek a better life in the neighbouring country, a destination of choice for many African immigrants fleeing poverty, famine, civil war and other socio-economic ills in their counties.
Botswana is also working with the Foreign Affairs ministry to repatriate locals affected by the COVID-19 crisis in that country.
To date, over 1 000 locals based in Botswana have returned home, and have been isolated for a maximum of 14 days at different centres as they undergo COVID-19 testing.