SOUTH Africa and Botswana deported a combined 25,300 Zimbabweans between January 1 and April 30 this year, official figures released on Wednesday showed.
During the same period last year, 17,023 deportees were recorded from both countries. South Africa accounted for 13,600 removals.
Matabeleland South police said 23,150 people, mainly illegal immigrants, were deported from South Africa through the Beitbridge Border Post, while 2,151 arrived from western neighbour Botswana through Plumtree Border Post.
“On average, about 100 people are deported from Botswana while between 200 and 300 are deported from South Africa every day,” Matabeleland South police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Christopher Ngwenya said.
Those deported would have either breached immigration laws such as overstaying resulting in the cancellation of their permits or crossing borders without valid travel documents.
Zimbabwe’s economy is improving after a decade-long slump, but millions of emigrants now living in neighbouring countries, mainly South Africa, remain reluctant to return home with lack of jobs still a major push factor.
On arrival, deportees are taken to International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Reception and Support Centres at Beitbridge and Plumtree where they are given food and temporary shelter before being offered transport assistance to their homes.
At the centres, deportees are also given advice on safe migration, human and drug trafficking as well as information about HIV and Aids.
Between May 2009 and the end of 2011, South Africa suspended the deportation of undocumented Zimbabweans and gave them an opportunity to regularise their stay by applying for work, business and study permits.
Although some two million Zimbabweans are believed to live in that country, only 275, 762 applications were processed before the deportations resumed in 2012.
Speaking on Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said Zimbabwe would engage South Africa after elections later this year to conduct another documentation exercise for Zimbabweans.
He said Zimbabwe remained concerned about the unending wave of illegal migration which had security implications for countries in the region.