MORE than 10 000 undocumented foreigners were deported in the first half of this year alone.

This was revealed by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi during a press conference in parliament on Tuesday.

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Responding to questions, the minister said no one knew the exact number of undocumented foreigners in the country.

“There is no official number. It would be a very wild guess, nobody knows it. We have tried with Stats SA, but it is not their practice when they do census to ask people whether they are documented or undocumented.

“So, frankly speaking, we don’t know how many people are undocumented. Obviously, they don’t want to be known,” he said.

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Motsoaledi could only speak of asylum seekers, who came through via official channels.

He gave figures of the top 10 countries whose citizens applied for refugee status last year.

The DRC topped the list with 4 014 applications, of which only 638 were approved.

Bangladesh came second with 3 040 applications. But only one person was granted the status.

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Ethiopia was third with 2 197 applications, of which 324 were approved. Zimbabwe had 1 137 applications and 43 approvals, while Somalia had 1 005 applications and 32 approvals.

Nigeria came a distant 10th with 948 applications, none of which were approved.

“They come and say: ‘I’m a refugee, I’m being persecuted.’ But after we investigate, we mostly don’t find the truth in that because these people are coming for jobs,” said the minister.