Harare – Authorities in South Africa and Botswana deported more than 140,000 Zimbabweans in 2006, a Herald newspaper report Friday quoted police records as saying.
A total of 109,532 Zimbabweans were deported from South Africa in 2006, according to the records.
That represents 300 people a day, most of whom hazard the crossing of the Limpopo River border with South Africa, which is infested with crocodiles or swollen with dangerous flood waters in the rainy season.
Another 32,264 Zimbabweans were deported from neighbouring Botswana in 2006, said the Herald.
“As police, we are going to double our efforts in border patrols and awareness campaigns aimed at putting an end to illegal migration,” police spokesman, Trust Ndlovu, told the newspaper.
“We encourage people to travel legally as they risk death and prosecution when they engage in border jumping,” he added.
The stable economies of Botswana and South Africa, as well as their strong pula and rand currencies are the major attractions for Zimbabweans who want to escape intense hardship at home.
Most Zimbabweans are struggling to survive amid hunger, joblessness and the world’s highest rate of inflation of more than 1,200 per cent.
Many of those deported try to sneak back into South Africa soon afterwards.
Labour ministers from Zimbabwe and South Africa are seeking ways of facilitating lawful labour migration between the two neighbours, said the Herald.
The International Organisation for Migration has set up a reception centre for Zimbabwean deportees at the Beitbridge border post with South Africa.
The centre can deal with 6,000 deportees a month. A similar centre is being planned for Zimbabwe’s Plumtree border post with Botswana, said the Herald.
South Africa’s department of home affairs said the number of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants deported in 2005 was 97,433, but police in Zimbabwe put the figure at only 49,788.