1 Jan 2011

Zimbabweans queue to legalise their status

12:06 am on 1 January 2011

Thousands of Zimbabweans in South Africa have been queuing outside government offices to try to legalise their status before a New Year deadline.

After that they face deportation if they don't have permits.

A special dispensation was granted last year to Zimbabweans fleeing instability and economic meltdown.

The South African authorities say the end of 2010 will mark the closing of their offer for Zimbabweans to hand in illegal paperwork and apply for residency.

It's been a process fraught with delays, many of the Zimbabweans have had to apply for new passports at their own, painfully slow embassy.

Once over that hurdle, they've had to deal with South African bureaucracy.

Homes affairs officials in South Africa have been overwhelmed by the number of people coming forward.

At the last count 140,000 had applied, but that's only a fraction of the estimated 2 million Zimbabweans in South Africa.