Hundreds of illegal immigrants from Ethiopia, Somalia, and Malawi have been arrested in Zimbabwe since the beginning of 2017 and have been forcibly deported back to their home countries—all with the active help and cooperation of the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration, it has emerged.
According to Malawi’s Nyasa Times newspaper, Zimbabwe immigration authorities last week deported 62 Malawian nationals who were arrested “because of lack of proper travel documents and exceeding their stay limits.”
An immigration spokesman, Senior Immigration Assistant Pasquale Zulu, told the newspaper that among the group of deportees were 12 women and two children below the age of two years.
“The International Organization for Migration facilitated their trip back into the country in a Zupco bus registration number ADS 4701,” Zulu added.
The New Zimbabwe news service reported that Zimbabwe had also just completed a deportation of at least six illegal immigrants back to their home countries of Ethiopia and Somalia.
The six, named in court as Dek Miyyir Hassan, Abdirahman Ahmed, Abdirahman Azziz Ahmed, Mahad Ahmed Ali, Desta Chika, and Reshad Gesbe, were ordered deported, while a local Zimbabwean, Solani Ngwenya, was sentenced to 12 months for trafficking.
The newspaper said that Ngwenya is “well known” for “helping border jumpers into the country and connecting them to their destinations in South Africa.”
He is reportedly linked to a group of human traffickers in countries such as Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Zambia, who assist “illegal immigrants” with their “travel within Zimbabwe down to South Africa.”
Another Zimbabwean newspaper, the Masvingo Mirror, revealed that 56 “illegal Ethiopians” were arrested last week at a ranch near Gwanda in the Matabeleland South province.
The Ethiopians all said that they were on their way to South Africa “to look for jobs.”
The Masvingo Mirror reported that six of the illegals “fainted in court due to hunger and prison officers had to prepare porridge for them.”
The invaders all appeared before Gwanda Provincial Magistrate Obidience Matare, facing charges of “unlawful entry” and “remaining in Zimbabwe without a permit” after they were found hiding in Mashura Ranch under the protection of one Norman Dube.
The 56 accused are all males of Ethiopian nationality, and none of them except one Lonsako Esatu Sumoro could speak and understand English, the newspaper added.
Sumoro told the court that they left Ethiopia on November 17, 2016.
“We left Ethiopia last November. We were going to South Africa to look for jobs. We came through Tanzania, Mozambique, and then Zimbabwe. We used Nyamapanda Border Post and we have been using trucks to get to this point,” he said.
Dube told the court that he was keeping the invaders at the Mashura Ranch “because he was employed by someone in Beit Bridge to take care of the accused.” Beit Bridge is the main border crossing between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“I was supposed to be paid $100 for taking care of these people,” Dube revealed, before being ordered to pay a $100 fine on the charge of “assisting illegal immigrants.”
Magistrate Matare ordered the invaders “lodged at Gwanda Prison” until they could be deported.
The Masvingo Mirror added that this was “not the first bunch of illegal Ethiopians to get into Gwanda, as 13 others were caught in Filabusi last year and deported back to their country.”
In South Africa itself, the local black population is highly antagonistic toward other Africans coming illegally to that country.
As that country’s white population shrinks, so does the economy, and along with that, a reduced number of available jobs. As a result, violence against foreign blacks, legally or illegally present, often breaks out.
Just last week, at least 15 houses either belonging to, or rented by, foreigners, especially Nigerians, have been burnt by angry demonstrators in Rosettenville, a suburb of Johannesburg, local news reported.
Police used teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowds, “but the protesters were not deterred,” the reports claimed.
Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has been blamed for the violence after he announced to the public in December 2016 that “illegal immigrants in the country should be treated as criminals,” and that “foreign nationals are involved in criminal activity in Johannesburg, because they arrived in the city illegally.”
The Johannesburg mayor—a member of the anti-ANC opposition Democratic Alliance party—also announced that he had issued an “order for all illegal foreigners living in the city to vacate the city.”