Covid-19 halves deportations from SA, but usual culprits head list

Dave Chambers Cape Town bureau chief
Four countries contribute well over 90% of illegal immigrants deported from SA.
Four countries contribute well over 90% of illegal immigrants deported from SA.
Image: 123rf/route55

The Covid-19 lockdown halved the number of illegal immigrants SA deported.

Only 14,859 people were deported between April 1 2020 and March 31 2021, compared with 29,376 in the previous 12 months, according to home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

Four countries — Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Lesotho — accounted for well over 90% of deportations in both years. But the proportions contributed by some of the quartet changed significantly.

In 2019/20, 13,834 deportations to Mozambique accounted for nearly half of the total. But the 2,714 deportations to SA's north-easterly neighbour the following year made up only 18% of the total.

Lesotho's 13.5% share of deportations in 2019/20 tripled to 39% the following year, and the number of deportations to the landlocked nation grew from 3,963 to 5,769.

IFP MP Inkosi Bhekizizwe Luthuli asked Motsoaledi about levels of illegal immigration and the breakdown by nationality.

In his reply, the minister said citizens of 48 countries were deported in 2019/20. Undocumented people from only 32 countries were deported in 2020/21.

Even though they share land borders with SA, Namibia and Botswana contributed only 27 deportations between them in 2020/21.

SA's other landlocked neighbour, Eswatini, doubled deportations from 314 in 2019/20 to 622 during the year under lockdown.

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