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18,000 Zimbabweans deported from SA

More than 18,000 illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe were sent back home.

Zimbabweans waiting outside Home Affairs offices, Johannesburg. Picture: Tshepo Lesole/Eyewitness News

ZIMBABWE - More than 18,000 illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe have been deported from South Africa so far in 2012, the press reported on Thursday.

But officials warned that a drop in water levels on the Limpopo River is helping border jumpers cross back to South Africa.

Authorities will have to step up patrols in the region.

The report claims ex-convicts are being sent back from South Africa along with busloads of ordinary deportees.

Officials said the deportations fuelled a surge in crime in the Beitbridge area.

Seven busloads of Zimbabweans were sent back on Tuesday.

That takes the total number of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants turned back to 18,072.

The state-owned Chronicle newspaper said a recent drop in Limpopo water levels led to a sharp rise in the number of Zimbabweans who are braving the river crossing.