via 802 deportees arrive by train | The Herald June 3, 2015
The second batch of 802 Zimbabweans who were rounded up by South African authorities for violating the country’s immigration laws arrives home this morning aboard a train via Beitbridge Border Post.
The group is part of 1 350 people who were rounded up during Operation Fiela (Clean-Up) being jointly implemented by South Africa’s immigration authorities, the police and the army.
The first batch of 440 immigrants arrived in the country last week in a convoy of eight buses.
Zimbabwe’s consul general to South Africa Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro said the male-only group left Johannesburg at around 5pm yesterday and was expected today at around 9 am.
The group is being escorted by 200 officials from the police and immigration.
“The train is expected to arrive at between 8.30 and 9 am tomorrow (today) and we are hopeful that the repatriation process will go smoothly. These were documented together with the 440 who were deported in buses last week.
“We are left with very few women who cannot be deported by train and will be repatriated in buses together with children,” he said.
The train, he said, was introduced a as way to de-congest the swelling numbers of illegal immigrants at Lindelani transit holding centre.
He said the train would only be used in cases where there were large numbers of people at the centre.
He added that the train would leave them at the National Railways of Zimbabwe station adjacent to a Government-run reception and support centre.
“As of now, the numbers do not warrant another train. Females will always be deported by road and those at the facility will be deported in buses unless the numbers swell again,” said Mr Mukonoweshuro.
He called on Zimbabweans travelling to South Africa to ensure they had proper document, adding that those travelling with children should be aware of the new requirements on long birth certificates and the requisite affidavits.
Mr Mukonoweshuro said Zimbabweans must not be tempted to overstay or travel without valid documents.
The acting chairperson of the Civil Protection Unit in Beitbridge, Mrs Kiliboni Ndou, said they had put systems in place and were ready to assist the deportees from South Africa.
“We have done our home work and are ready to roll. We will provide them with food, accommodation, medical treatment, counselling and travelling warrants to their respective homes,” she said.
Mrs Ndou said they had also put together a team of 20 officers from various Government departments to assist in documenting the deportees.
The Beitbridge reception and support centre has a holding capacity of 1000 adults and 40 children at any given time.