Passport collection deadline moved

passport_zimbabweJOHANNESBURG - The Zimbabwe Consulate has extended the deadline for its nationals to collect passports and other identity documents for which they applied for in South Africa.

Officials said the deadline had been moved from April 8 to one that it is yet to announce as thousands of passports have not been collected. Passports are gathering dust at the Consulate after the Department of Home Affairs reneged on its guarantees to contact applicants when the documents were ready for collection.

Last year when South Africa stated plans to resume deportations of undocumented Zimbabweans, it urged these nationals to apply for passports at Zimbabwean consulates. Thousands welcomed the initiative and applied. Zimbabwes Home Affairs pledged to contact the applicants in a move aimed at easing congestion as desperate Zimbabweans would flock the collection centres before such documents were processed.

But it has failed to do so. While Consulate General, Christopher Mapanga, could not be reached for comment, officials at the consulates base in Meadowdale, east of Johannesburg, confirmed the deadline had been moved. Initially, the deadline was set as April 8 but the majority of Zimbabweans who applied for the passports here have not come and collected. A new deadline will be set in due course but we urge those that applied for the passports last year to come and collect them, an official told The Zimbabwean.

If uncollected, the passports would be sent to the head offices in Johannesburg which Zimbabweans have complained is inaccessible owing to insensitive security personnel. The Consortium of Refugees and Migrants of South Africa (Cormsa) confirmed thousand of passports had not been collected.

They (consulate) have moved the deadline for collection because they want to encourage Zimbabweans who have applied to collect these passports as soon as possible. They have received 20 000 passports and these are all ready for collection immediately, it said.

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