ZYW blasts South Africa govt

A humanitarian organisation here has rapped South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs, over its continued ill-treatment of Zimbabwean refugees trying to renew their asylum seeker permits.

Gift Nhidza, an executive member of the ZYW.
Gift Nhidza, an executive member of the ZYW.

The Zimbabwe Youth Wing, whose majority of members are MDC activists who fled torture and harassment during the politically volatile 2000-2008 period, said many refugees faced being “thrown back” to the lion’s den, after their permits expired, due to the reluctance by officials to renew them.

“It’s back to the old days when genuine refugees were thrown out of the DHA offices because they did not have money to pay for their asylum permits to be renewed, while undeserving people get served because they have the money,” said Gift Nhidza, an executive member of the ZYW. “We have been forced to intervene a number of times, after some of our members were arrested and sent to Lindela Repatriation Centre to await deportation. It is so unfortunate that the SA government has decided be so cruel.”

Nhidza said a handful of less fortunate refugees had been deported and their lives had been put at risk.

“Many people continue to be turned away from the DHA offices by security guards and officials who want to be paid bribes. We have sat at meetings with the DHA officials and continue to engage them, but this now seems to be a calculated ploy to have people deported to Zimbabwe. We do not know the motive behind it, but it is worrying.”

DHA Director General, Mkuseli Apleni said asylum permits were still being renewed and processed.

“We have not issued a directive to this effect. I cannot comment on those allegations until a formal report has been brought forward for our investigations,” said Apleni.

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