Onwettige voertuie

19 Desember 2018 – OP REIS – NA ZIMBABWE – Daar is 44 passasiers in ‘n 22 sitplek bus, 7 is kinders.  Hoeveel is onwettig op pad na Zimbabwe, en hoeveel word weer onwettig teruggebring.  Hoeveel van die passasiers is onwettiges en op pad na hul tuiste Zimbabwe?   Hoeveel is afkomstig uit Zimbabwe of ouers van Zimbabwe?  Bus op pad na Zimbabwe vanaf Johannesburg.  Lees meer oor immigrante …

read more … lees meer
Immigrante – misdaad – statistiek


Limpopo Public Transport Unit officers this morning, stopped a 22 seater cross border taxi with double the amount of passengers on board.    The cross border taxi was stopped during a routine stop and check on the N1 near Snake Park in Polokwane.

According to the spokesperson for the Department of Transport, Matome Moremi-Taueutsoala, the bus was stopped on the N1 next to Snake Park just outside Polokwane. The bus was enroute to Zimbabwe from Johannesburg.

Moremi-Taueutsoala says this is totally unacceptable and that traffic officers will continue to crack down on those who break the law.



The informal movements of Zimbabweans into SA are fraught with manifold menaces for the migrants. The hazards are multiple and varied. They range from the natural to the human.  Indeed tales from the migrants suggest a litany of these dangers that they had to grapple with as they traversed their way into SA. During the fieldwork, we saw first-hand the dangers and treacherous routes that the migrants had to contend with. The Limpopo River forms a formidable barrier between Zimbabwe and SA.

This, however, has not proved to be a sufficient enough deterrent for desperate Zimbabweans trying to seek a new life in SA. Migrants have to contend not only with the raging tide of the river but with crocodiles. There were reports about people being swept by the swollen river, being pulled under the river by crocodiles and never to be seen again. Other respondents told of people being deliberately left to be washed away by the river following misunderstandings over money with the maguma-guma.

The following quotes are informative:

…….I was waist deep in water on the Zimbabwean side of the river, and by the time when I was in the middle, it was up to my neck. I was afraid and silently, I was saying my prayers. I was holding firmly to the guy in front of me and behind me the other woman was doing the same. We had to hold on to each other in a straight line with the guide in front another in the middle, and one at the end. Suddenly there was a piecing scream and because it was dark I could not see who it was, the guides told us that two people had been swept away when we had crossed. (Interview with Charles, Polokwane, March 2015) I am not doing it again…never ever. The current was too strong and it swept me and the person I was holding on to and the one who was behind me, holding on to me. I was thinking that I was going to die and how I am still alive, only God knows. I was on the verge of dying with thirsty and hunger when I stumbled onto a farm. (Interview with Noah, Seshegho, SA, April 2015)

attacked by prides of lions

…….We entered SA through Chikwarakwara and crossed the flooded river with a canoe. There were some guys who knew the way. Two days after we crossed the Limpopo, we were suddenly attacked by a pride of lions. I ran like I never before, I had to because you could hear cries, those cries are still with me now, cries of people that I knew being eaten by lions. It was painful and scary; I survived by climbing a tree where I stayed for a further two days. I am alive by the grace of God. I later saw park rangers who were in the company of one of the people that we were with. (Interview with Noah, Musina, June 2015)


Human smuggling which is rife between Zimbabwe and SA has been taken over by criminals, commonly referred to as Maguma-guma.   Maguma-guma is a Shona term for gangs of people who patronize the Beitbridge Border post  engaging in criminal activities ranging from petty theft to facilitating the illegal crossing of goods and people through the border post and also through informal channels. Some of the Maguma-gumas are said to lie in wait for people who will be trying to “border jump” by traversing the river banks on both sides of the Limpopo or in the known paths that are used by migrants once they are on the South African side of the border. The Maguma-gumas can be
equated to the coyotes that Mexicans and other Latin American migrants use to facilitate their entry into the USA (Mahler, 1995, Mahler 1998). Maguma-gumas have been reported to extort money, goods, mobile phones and other valuables from desperate migrants. The case of Tarisai, a 24 year-old man who was shot by Maguma-gumas on his way to SA after an argument about payment demonstrates not only the ruthlessness of these human smugglers but also the vulnerability of the migrants:

……. I was shot because I didn’t have more money to pay. I had already paid them R150 they had asked for to be guided into SA from Beitbridge. I told them I didn’t have any more money and he shot me on the leg. I was saved by the South African police who found me and took me to hospital. Now I am crippled, I left home perfectly normal but now I am an invalid. (Interview in Musina, 22 March 2015)

Notwithstanding the threats outlined above, a significant number of migrants stated that the greatest danger facing the ‘border jumpers’ was the scourge of maguma guma. Border jumper is a term commonly used to refer to people who cross into SA through informal channels.   According to the information provided by the interviewees, migrants were typically approached by members of the gangs or ‘runners’ (people who recruit and channel migrants to the guides) at the Beitbridge border post with the promise of a safe passage to Musina. They were also usually being promised protection from Maguma-guma. The fee was usually agreed in advance and respondents spoke of negotiations taking place in the event that one did not have enough money.   The fees charged by the Maguma-guma varied from as little as 50 Rands to as high as 2000 Rands. They accepted payment in kind such as mobile phones, watches, jewellery and designer clothes and shoes.

The impact of the deteriorating economic conditions in Zimbabwe in propelling departure did not vary according to ethnicity and gender as this was evenly spread. There was a strong co-relationship between the economic factors and the year of departure as the case of Davidson, a 37 year old engineer who left in August 2008 demonstrated:

……. You couldn’t stay there because it was uninhabitable; it was like living in a desert without anything, any cover. I don’t know how to describe it for you to understand, because words can’t describe the suffering that we went through, the hardships that we saw and felt. If you were there in 2008, you would understand what I am trying to say. It was tough; the money was worthless for most of us who didn’t have access to forex. It was only the ZANU PF people and their minions who enjoyed as the system was against everyone; it made all of us poor overnight except them. In the end, I ended up staying at home as the cost of transport changed hourly. Everything was changing by the hour, others by the minute so much that you never had enough money to buy anything.  It was costing more to travel to town per day than what you were paid per month and in the end people just stayed at home. The hardships I underwent trying to provide for my family are indescribable…you can’t put words to such suffering. We suffered too badly
and no human being should suffer like we Zimbabweans did at the hands of that man (Mugabe). (Interview with Davidson, Musina, SA, June 2015)

……. I came here because baas (boss) lost the farm, it was invaded and we were told to go home. The new people didn’t need workers; the people that took the land came from maruzevha (villages/reserves) in Zaka. They took all the cattle and ate them. I didn’t have anywhere to go; I was born on the farm to a Mozambican father and a Zimbabwean mother. I had to come here as others who had homes in the villages went back to their villages and some like me, had to think of somewhere else to go. (Interview with Darios, Limpopo Province, April 2015).

…… I was running a flea market in Harare. I was lodging a two-roomed cottage in Highfield.  One Tuesday morning, there was commotion outside the flea market and soon there were soldiers and police officers taking our wares and loading them into army trucks. They told us that what we were doing was illegal and that we should go back home. People were crying as this was our life, we were surviving because of the money that we were getting from selling second hand clothes and electrical gadgets. When I got home, I was met with the shock of my life, my house had been turned into rubble. Everything that I owned was gone; I was not even given the chance to remove my furniture. The bulldozers were actually in the process of destroying other houses and people were screaming, swearing at the soldiers but they couldn’t do anything because these men had guns, they were armed to the teeth. Riot police was standing guard, watching the soldiers and police destroy people’s houses. They are very cruel people, these ZANU people. I didn’t have any alternative except to go either to my rural home (Mutoko) or to come here. I decided to come here after leaving my daughter with my mother at our rural home. (Interview with Fadzai, Musina, SA, June, 2015)


Click to access 12.1-15-Mpondi%20(1).pdf


Illegal labour immigration is increasingly a source of concern to politicians and the public in relatively rich countries within the Southern African Development Corporation (SADC). This paper examines the status of illegal immigration in Botswana and South Africa. The definition of illegal immigration is discussed.  It draws extensively from similar experiences in the United States of America and other Sub-Saharan African countries. The major hosts of illegal immigration are South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.  Primary sources are Mozambique and Zimbabwe.  Huge economic disparities between Southern African states are largely responsible for illegal movements in the region.  Apprehension and deportation of illegal immigrants are actively pursued in Botswana and South Africa.  An effective method of border control in the past was the erection of electrified fence along parts of the South African borders.  Some immigration policies are noted and proposals are made for implementation of measures that would assist in controlling illegal immigration in southern Africa.


The meaning and implication of illegal immigration needs clarifying.  An illegal immigrant could be defined as a person who enters a country of which he/she is not a citizen without demonstrating at the port of entry that he/she possesses legal documents that justify such entry. In effect, illegal immigration constitutes a criminal offence for which, if apprehended, could carry the full penalty of the Immigration Act.  Not surprisingly, in countries where criminal behaviour is dealt with very seriously, persons accused of attempting or making an illegal entry may be treated harshly.  While illegal immigrants are generally perceived to have crossed a country’s border without required documents, a substantial number of such persons enter the country with appropriate documents.  Students, previously employed persons whose work and residence permits have expired, tourists, refugees and visiting family members do constitute sources of illegal immigration.  Still, there are illegal immigrants who may be justifiably so for short periods. Asylum-seekers and refugees may stay temporarily under conditions associated with illegal immigration while awaiting decisions on their applications for legal residence in a country.  But these should not be seen to be illegal immigrants because the government would have acknowledged their presence in the country from their application forms.

The government of South Africa has experience considerable difficulties in its quest to ensure that the country’s limited resources are fairly spread out for the benefit of every citizen.  Partly due to this, illegal immigration is a priority issue in the country’s immigration policy.  Government officials, the press and individual South Africans have voiced opinions reflecting intolerance of illegal immigrants in the country (Danso and McDonald, 2000; Crush 2001).  A recent study in Southern Africa by the Southern African Migration Project (SAMP) indicates that people in sending and receiving countries have very low opinions of illegal immigrants.  Over 65% of South Africans feel that illegal immigrants should never be granted police protection or rights to social security and legal protection; and almost 90% believe that illegal immigrants should never be granted voting right or freedom of speech.

Uncontrolled illegal immigration has serious implications for the status of the economy. Illegal immigrants are mostly poorly educated and therefore compete for jobs with the lower classes of the host country’s population.  It may be assumed that the opportunity costs of becoming an illegal immigrant in South Africa would increase continuously between the time the decision to move out of the source country was implemented and the migrant’s arrival at the border.  While the direct costs continue to increase, the optimum state of the opportunity costs would occur if the immigrant gets apprehended at the border.  This is especially true as a rational person would have provided adequately for all (or most) costs, including time cost, associated with perceived apprehension measures. Naturally, such information would have derived directly or otherwise from previously apprehended illegal immigrants.  From the time the immigrant successfully enters South Africa the opportunity costs begin to fall; and this continues up to the stage when such person enters the labour market.  But such costs are never eliminated until a change from illegal to legal residence status is attained.  As the study by McDonald et al. (1998) indicates, between 81% and 87% of adults in Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe would prefer that people from other African countries have the same job opportunities and medical services, respectively, in South Africa as South African citizens.  It may be surmised therefore that a desire for at least temporary legal residence status in South Africa exist in every illegal immigrant and every possible effort, legal or illegal, may be made to attain that goal.

The per capita GNI of Botswana increased at an annual average rate of 9% between 1985/86 and 1988/89 and continued rising from US$2,790 in 1993, US$3,310 in 1998/99 to US$3,430 in 2003 (Botswana, 1997; 1999; PRB, 1999; World Bank, 2004).  Its foreign reserves have also increased annually and they were US$5.9 billion in 2001 (Gaolathe, 2002).  Largely due to its economy, Botswana has had to contend with some degree of illegal labour immigration.  In 1998, 18 illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, whose planned destination was South Africa, were discovered dead in Botswana.  This incident made headlines in the Botswana news media largely because the bodies were discovered on the Botswana side of the Botswana-South Africa border.  Reportedly, there were initially 80 persons herded in a trailer which was bound for South Africa and each person paid about US$30 for the trip (Anneleng, 1998). There are indications that similar events have previously led to apprehension of about 88 illegal immigrants and truck drivers in Botswana.  There have been actions related to deportation of illegal foreigners from the country.  Table 1ab shows a remarkable decline among illegal immigrants deported between 1992/93 and 1993/94.  It is unlikely that this reflects reduction in the incidence of illegal immigration because the number of deportees increased significantly during the following years.  It is uncertain whether or not differences in the number of people deported reflect varying levels of apprehension annually between 1992/93 and 1996/97.  The table does not provide for knowledge about the sex and age distribution of the persons who were deported.

Zimbabweans form most of Botswana’s illegal immigrants, and one of the factors motivating this process is the extension of national health services cards to children born of foreign parents in the country.  In the northern part of Botswana, immigrants from Zimbabwe frequently abuse these facilities.  As Table 2 shows, Botswana’s economy (as manifest in the GNI per capita) is better than most economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. A notable exception is Gabon whose GNI per capita is about US$3,580.  The effects of a structural adjustment programme, including massive devaluation of the Zimbabwe Dollar and astronomical increases in food and petrol prices, have been a dramatic fall of people’s quality of life. But bad governance and international economic sanctions against Zimbabwe have also contributed to increased poverty in the country.  Botswana’s current GNI per capita is seven times higher than that of Zimbabwe; and this economic advantage is likely to increase if serious efforts are not made to stem the country’s economic decline.

Under the auspices of SAMP, a study was done in 2001 to investigate the attitudes of Botswana (citizens of Botswana) towards immigrants in the country (see Campbell, 2003 for methodology of the study).  The results revealed that Botswana nationals have a passionate dislike for illegal immigrants.  On a scale of zero to ten, almost 70% of the sample rate illegal immigrants zero.  Table 3 shows most nationals (95%) were opposed to illegal immigrants being granted freedom of speech in Botswana.  Indeed, a greater proportion than what was observed in South Africa (98%) opposed the idea that illegal immigrants should be granted voting rights.  There was overwhelming support for the army to be deployed to guard the country’s borders, for entrepreneurs that employ illegal immigrants to be prosecuted and for deportation of all illegal immigrants.  Paradoxically, long after the new majority government in South Africa saw it fit to switch the country’s electric fence from lethal to alarm mode, almost 60% of Botswana citizens preferred that a similar fence be constructed in Botswana and switched on lethal mode. There is evidence that an electric fence has been erected on the Botswana-Zimbabwe border.  It is powered by solar energy and there were fears that it would be switch on lethal mode before the national parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe in March 31, 2005.

Largely because of the economic disparity between Botswana and Zimbabwe, Botswana (citizens of Botswana) perceive almost all Zimbabweans in the country are illegal immigrants.  This has contributed largely to frequent police raids in areas suspected to harbour illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe.  However, though Zimbabweans bear the brunt of the Botswana’s anger over the increasing incidence of crime and prostitution in Botswana, the police have often tried to dismiss this perception.

Among the explanations for the large number of illegal immigrants in South Africa is foreigners’ perception of a spirit of camerade.  This relationship should exist between black South Africans and fellow blacks in Sub-Saharan Africa who showed considerable sympathy with South African exiles in the 1970s and 1980s.  It was anticipated that, given the special relationship between South Africa and other Sub-Saharan African countries from which it received political, military and economic support during this period, immigration from especially neighbouring countries would be among the least areas of concern among South Africans.  But this perception was a miscalculation of the post-apartheid South African government’s intentions.  One of the first measures taken in revising the Aliens Control Act during the transition to democracy was to address the problem of illegal aliens anticipated in the country (Maduna, 1995).  Several pronouncements by the Minister of Home Affairs since 1994 attest to South Africa’s intolerance of illegal immigration.

Similarly, the government of Botswana has, on several occasions in the past, extended an inviting hand of compassion to victims of racial prejudice and political conflict.  During the 1970s, Botswana hosted between 6,000 and 30,000 refugees from Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia.  Most of them were offered employment and education opportunities in the country.  Of nearly 17,000 persons that were granted Botswana citizenship between 1971 and 1981, the majority were refugees and their offspring (Milazi, 1995). It is not coincidental that most illegal immigrants in the country are Zimbabweans.  Apart from sharing political borders, Zimbabwe and Botswana have a long history of diasporas movements.  Due to ethnic conflict and the banishment of their chief, the Bakalanga, an ethnic minority in the northern parts of Botswana, were forced to flee to southern Zimbabwe where they received refuge in 1947.  This sealed close family relations between the Bakalanga and the people of southern Zimbabwe.  Their eventual return to Botswana was granted in 1958 (Dube, 2002).  This traditional demonstration of friendship and other historical connections are among the factors that contributed to an influx of illegal immigrants from Zimbabwean. However, modernizing and economic influences have changed Botswana government’s attitude to immigration and increased public intolerance of illegal immigration.

As stated earlier, where large-scale illegal immigration occur its explanation partly lies in the existence of two or more adjoining countries with highly divergent economic positions.  Table 2 reveals marked economic differences between Southern Africa and the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa, especially East Africa. This serves as a source for a substantial proportion of illegal immigration in South Africa and Botswana.  South Africa’s vibrant industrial economy is reflected in GNI per capita of US$2,780 in 2003, which is thirteen times higher than that of Mozambique. With such marked income differential, it is not surprising that Mozambicans constitute the largest number of persons deported from South Africa between 1990 and 1997 (see Crush, 2001).  Proximity of Lesotho to South Africa, drought and relatively weak economy largely explain why about 50% of households in Lesotho live mostly on remittances from labour migrants in South Africa, several of them living in South Africa illegally.

In examining the factors responsible for the large population of illegal immigrants in South Africa, a brief assessment of the immigration control measures is in order. Implementation of the Aliens Control Act includes unannounced visits by the South African Police Service (SAPS) to areas where illegal immigrants reportedly live.   Where individuals fail to show evidence of being in the country legally, swift apprehensive measures are taken. These include immediate arrest, imprisonment and eventual deportation. From available statistics a total of 900,266 illegal immigrants were deported from South Africa between 1990 and 1997, 82% of them being Mozambicans (see Table 4).  Zimbabweans deported from Botswana increased from 8,465 in 1997, through 12,000 in 1999, 25,511 in 2001 to 26,585 in 2002 (Daily News, 2000a; 2004).

It is generally acknowledged that various social networks and individuals help to protect illegal immigrants from apprehension.  Unscrupulous employers prefer to hire illegal immigrants because they provide cheap labour and therefore constitute a convenient source for profit maximization. They also minimize risk of conflict with labour unions, especially where illegal employees forfeit their rights to medical aid and other insurance benefits.  Employment of illegal immigrants is common practice in Botswana and South Africa.  Many are employed as domestic and construction workers.  Government officers and politicians in Botswana are increasingly warning employers to desist from employing illegal immigrants (Daily News, 2001b; 2002).  It is illegal for any organization to knowingly employ illegal immigrants; and where such offence is committed the employer is at risk of being apprehended and fined.  In South Africa, SAPS makes unannounced visits to employing agencies where there is suspicion of employment of illegal immigrants.  These measures are more or less similar to those adopted in Europe and the USA (Kossoudji, 1992; SOPEMI, 1993; Espenshade, 1994).  But the methods of apprehending suspected illegal immigrants in South Africa appear crude, considering the frequency with which SAPS has been criticized for its approach (Kotze and Hill, 1997).

If South Africa’s Ministry of Home Affairs ensures that the Immigration Bill was implemented with complete enthusiasm and free of corruption, there should be significant reduction of illegal immigrants in the country.  But the experiences in developed countries, where similar Acts have been implemented, do not provide much scope for celebration of anticipated success.  Implementation of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in the USA included an additional $400 million (an increase of 50%) to the budget for improving patrol of the Mexico-USA border (Donato et al., 1992).  As in the case of South Africa when conditional amnesty was granted to illegal immigrants from SADC countries in 1996, the USA government legalized the residence status of about 1.3 million illegal immigrants in 1988.  Also, as in South Africa, the IRCA re-authorized the prohibition of employers from hiring illegal immigrants.  In effect, any organization found employing illegal immigrants was subject to civil and criminal penalties.  These measures failed to deter illegal cross-border activities by Mexicans (Donato et al., 1992; Espenshade, 1994); and much of this was due to the widening economic gap between the USA and Mexico following a boost in USA’s economy by 1989 when Mexico’s economy was in recession.  Some of the measures that were implemented in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries could be useful in southern Africa.  They   include tightening of border controls, extension of visa requirements, swifter processing of visa application forms, stricter measures regarding illegal employment and trafficking in illegal labour migration (SOPEMI, 1993, p.44).  However, considering that the increasing economic gap between the economies of South Africa and Botswana and other SADC countries like Mozambique, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, there is hardly much hope that the Aliens Control Amendment Act measures would be very successful in deterring illegal immigration in South Africa.

Assuming that over 80% of illegal immigration in southern Africa involves illegal border crossing, it is recommended that the budget for immigration control be increased substantially, taking into account increased number of patrol officers covering land and sea borders and maximisation of efficiency and accountability.  Applicants for refugee status should not be allowed to work until their applications have been processed and they have been awarded legal residence in the country.  Notwithstanding few European trade unions’ support of illegal employment, the general expression is towards alienating this practice (http://www.eiro.eurofound.ie). Though it may be impossible to stop employment of illegal immigrants, additional effort should be made to discourage it.  Unscrupulous employers should be sanctioned heavily where it was established that they employed illegal immigrant. Similar actions associated with purchasing stolen goods help to discourage such acts.  Where laws require street traders to hold permits for such activity, the fine for illegal trading should be substantial.  Due to the effect of illegal immigration on illegal international cash flows, governments should control currency export through parallel (“black”) market exchange avenues and related media of illegal international currency transfer.







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