ZIMBABWEANS risk being banned from travelling to South Africa for up to FIVE YEARS as the neighbouring country tightens screws on travellers who overstay.South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs has posted notices at entry points spelling out the penalties for overstaying.Previously, overstayers would be fined anything between R1,000 and R3,000 or be summarily deported – depending on the length of illegal stay.But now, President Jacob Zuma’s government is moving to impose stiffer penalties on anyone who overstays their welcome, with travel bans replacing fines.Ronnie Mamoepa, the spokesperson for South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs told Chronicle last night: “I can’t comment on an issue about which there has been no official statement. Wait for the official statement.”But several Zimbabwean travellers who passed through Beitbridge this week said they had been verbally told of the new penalties by South African immigration officials. Most had also seen the notices.Faith Dube, who arrived in Zimbabwe on Monday from South Africa, said the notice has three categories of bans.She told Chronicle: “The notice stated that instead of the usual fine, if you overstay for up to 30 days in the first 24 months you will be banned from travelling into South Africa for a year.
“The notice said second time offenders who would have overstayed for 30 days or less in 24 months will be banned for two years.”Those who overstay for more than 30 days will be banned for five years.”A Bulawayo-based lecturer, who presented himself to South African immigration at around 2AM yesterday, having overstayed his visa by a couple of hours, said he was given a stern warning.”I was considered to have 1overstayed by a day. The lady over the counter told me that I could be banned from travelling to South Africa for a year. I had to pay a R300 for them to adjust the stamp,” he said.Corruption is rife at the border post.A driver with a local bus company plying the Bulawayo-Johannesburg route also confirmed seeing the notice at the border.
“We were encouraged by immigration officials to read the notice. Officials there said this would replace the payment of penalties. Once your passport is endorsed, you will be prevented from entering South Africa,” said the driver, who requested anonymity.
Last week, the South African government said about 250,000 Zimbabweans who obtained special four-year work permits between 2009 and 2010 would be allowed to renew them when they expire in December this year. A ministerial statement outlining how the renewals will be conducted is expected shortly.
( Courtesy Bulawaye 24 & AGENCIES ………. Source …….. Our Freelance Contributor in Cape Town)