Zimbabweans Residents In South Africa Invade Passport Office

Harare, – Hundreds of Zimbabweans residents in South Africa this week besieged the passport office at Makombe Building in Harare in a rush to beat Friday's deadline to acquire Zimbabwean documents to regularise their stay in South Africa.\r\n

Harare Street, which passes along Makombe Building, was choking with South African register vehicles on Thursday as Zimbabweans domiciled in South Africa jostled with locals to acquire birth certificates, identity cards and passports, among other documents.

Some aspiring document holders told vote they slept over night outside the passport office amid revelations of rampant corruption in the processing of documents.

They claimed government officials, including police, responsible for manning the long-winding queues were demanding at last US$50 or R500 to be issued with a form for the processing a passport.

Only about 200 people are attended to per day. But this has not deterred more than 1000 people to try their luck at the passport office which since the start of the festive holidays had been battling to deal with new applicants.

The South African government has stated it will not extend the December 31 deadline, hence the stampede at Makombe Building.

In September 2010, the Zimbabwe government reduced the fees for ordinary passport from US$140 to US$50 allegedly as part of efforts to ensure that people got travelling documents. But sources at Makombe said only US$253 passports were being processed after the payment of a US$50 inducement to officials.

Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede was not immediately available to comment when Radio VOP called before visited his office at Makombe Building.