News - Date: 17 June 2011
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The ten Chinese illegal immigrants and a Nigerian who were intercepted by police and immigration authorities last week at a roadblock while attempting to cross into South Africa illegally through the Beit Bridge Border Post, have been deported.
They were arrested on Thursday last week, together with an Ethiopian, while attempting to sneak into South Africa.
Zimbabwe’s assistant regional immigration manager in charge of the Beit Bridge border post, Mr Charles Gwede, told Limpopo Mirror that the illegal immigrants, who had been kept at a local holding centre for a week, were taken to Harare International Airport for deportation. “The Chinese have been deported. In fact, they also entered Zimbabwe illegally, because they were not cleared by our immigration authorities on arrival,” he said.
The group was arrested during an ongoing joint operation involving police and immigration officials in the border town. The crackdown, which is aimed at flushing out illegal immigrants, follows a recent meeting in Beit Bridge between Zimbabwean and South African immigration officials over the issue of irregular migration between the two countries.
The illegal immigrants were nabbed at a roadblock along the Beitbridge-Masvingo road while on their way to the border post. Last week they appeared in court on charges of contravening the Immigration Act.
According to police investigations, the illegal immigrants entered Zimbabwe through Harare International Airport. When they arrived there, they did not make any efforts to go through the immigration authorities and proceeded to Beit Bridge in an effort to cross into South Africa.
Gwede said the 83 undocumented “refugees” from Somalia and Ethiopia who had been kept at a temporary holding centre in the border town had since been ferried to Tongogara Refugee Camp in Chipinge. “We also took the Somalis and Ethiopians to Tongogara, following assistance from the International Organisation for Migration, who are our partners."
He added that it was an ongoing exercise they were carrying out with the assistance of the police "as we intensify the fight against irregular migration between Zimbabwe and South Africa,” Mr Gwede said.
Several illegal immigrants, mostly from East and Central African countries, have since the beginning of last month been flocking to the Beit Bridge border post under the guise of being refugees seeking asylum permits in South Africa. Zimbabwe’s Minister of Home Affairs, Kembo Mohadi, said the majority of illegal immigrants who had been descending on Beit Bridge Border Post were not genuine refugees, but rogue elements taking chances, so that they could go to South Africa.