Zim, SA cross-border dialogue pays dividends

Source: Zim, SA cross-border dialogue pays dividends | The Herald September 8, 2016

. . harassment of migrants on the decline

Thupeyo Muleya : Beitbridge Bureau

The harassment of Zimbabwean immigrants in South Africa by authorities or employers has been declining in the last five years following the launch of the Cross-Border Migration Management Stakeholders’ Forum (CBMMSF), an official has said. Zimbabwe’s Consul-General to South Africa, Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro, said in an interview yesterday that the forum had been useful in addressing challenges on labour disputes and harassment of Zimbabweans during deportations.

The forum was launched in 2011.

Mr Mukonoweshuro said before the launch of the forum, they were receiving more reports of people being harassed by authorities, including police, during deportations compared to what was on the ground now.

“In some cases, they were under-paid by employers here, especially those working on farms. The employers were in the habit of hiring mainly those who are undocumented for cheap labour.

“They would then call in authorities from the Department of Home Affairs to arrest and deport without paying their salaries. Through the CBMMSF, we have been engaging as two countries and there has been a great improvement,” he said.

He said in some instances, Zimbabwean illegal migrants would be picked up by police and had their valuables seized, while others were not given an opportunity to collect their belongings or salaries.

“At the moment, we are pursuing two cases in Rust-de-Venter and Bhelabhela, where SAPS officers took mobile phones and belts from deportees and never released those items, ” said Mr Mukonoweshuro.

Mr Mukonoweshuro said they were glad that their host was adhering to standard deportation proced- ures.

“It is pleasing that ex-convicts, sick or pregnant women are now being deported separately from ordinary immigrants and there is constant engagement between stakeholders from both countries on immigration-related matters,” he said.

Cases of immigrants staying longer than necessary in holding cells awaiting deportation had also gone down.

Under international standards, an illegal immigrant may be detained for not more than two weeks before being deported to their native country.

He said the CBMMSF was a precursor to the implementation of the one-stop border post concept between the two countries.

“You will note that multi-stakeholders from Zimbabwe and South Africa have been working together under this forum in resolving cross-cutting issues involving migrants from both countries.

“This is an important build-up to the implementation of the one-stop border post concept, since we can now identify issues and resolve them on the spot,” said Mr Mukonoweshuro.

He said they had engaged the ministries of Justice and Labour from both countries that had an equal role regarding migration-related issues.

Figures from the Department of Immigration show that a total of 3 742 people were deported from South Africa via Beitbridge Border Post in the last three months.

These were rounded up for violating that country’s immigration laws.