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    Friday, June 28, 2024

    Zimbabweans in South Africa Welcome Rollout of E-Passports

    Joseph Chirume

    Pilot programme has seen about 60 e-passports processed daily since 21 June and the Zimbabwean Consulate says it is extending the initiative indefinitely

    A Zimbabwean father who lives and works in Gqeberha says for the first time in years he will be able to apply for documents for his children locally through the Zimbabwean e-passport pilot programme.

    Garikai, currently a Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) holder, says two of his children have been struggling to get documents for years, while his youngest, aged six, was born in South Africa and is also undocumented.

    Next month, Garikai will join many Zimbabwean nationals living in South Africa to apply for the Zimbabwean Consulate’s e-passport in Johannesburg. In a statement on 15 June, the Consulate announced its rollout.

    The introduction of e-passports will help people like the Garikai’s family to make trips across the border without fear of immediate arrest for being undocumented.

    Garikai told GroundUp that he is raising the money needed to travel with his children to Johannesburg during the school holidays so that they can get their e-passports. “Two are attending high school and the schools have been demanding their passports. It is very expensive to travel to Zimbabwe for that,” he said.

    A return bus ticket for one person from Gqeberha to Zimbabwe is about R3,000, which excludes luggage, while a return ticket to Johannesburg costs about R1,000.

    The cost of the passport is US$150 (about R2,744) with an additional US$20 (about R365) for each electronic passport application.

    The initial pilot period ran from 18 to 21 June, but last week the consulate announced that it was extending the pilot indefinitely.

    According to Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa David Hamadziripi, 60 e-passports have been processed daily since 21 June. They should take seven days to be issued.

    People applying for the e-passport should bring along a copy of their original birth certificate, original identity documents, and, if married, their original marriage certificate.

    Ambassador Hamadziripi said that they are renovating the Cape Town Consulate in order to extend the same service there.

    Ngqabutho Mabhena, of The Zimbabwe Community in South Africa, welcomed the initiative and urged Zimbabweans to take advantage of it.


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