Call for camps met with care

Chester Makana

Chester Makana

The chairman of the Human Rights Commission, Jody Kollapen, has called for feasibility studies before the government considers building refugee camps near the country's border with Zimbabwe.

However, he said the commission supported the idea of building the refugee camps on humanitarian grounds.

Kollapen's remarks yesterday came in the wake of the DA's call on the government to build refugee camps to house and feed millions of Zimbabweans fleeing their country's economic meltdown and President Robert Mugabe's increasingly repressive rule

"Discussions must be held to identify political and economic refugees because some people leave the country for economic reasons," Kollapen said.

However, observers believe something has to be done urgently because the Zimbabwean crisis will worsen.

But Darshan Vigneswaran, a researcher on forced migration at Wits University, said there were varying statistics on the number of Zimbabweans illegally in South Africa.

He said he did not understand how the DA had concluded that there were 3million Zimbabweans in South Africa. "There's a difference between migration and fleeing for economic reasons," he said.

Several surveys show that millions of Zimbabweans are in the country illegally, while thousands are deported back daily.

Police in Limpopo said most Zimbabweans had been deported at least three times.

However, police say scores of people were even deported more than once a day.