Forty-nine Zimbabweans escaped this week while they were being deported from South Africa, official media reported on Saturday.
Some jumped off moving buses while others “vanished into thin air”, the state-owned Herald newspaper said.
The escapees are reported to be among a group of 322 that was being repatriated in four buses from the Lindela Transit and Holding Centre in Johannesburg.
The official Chronicle newspaper said most of those who gave escorting officials the slip were ex-convicts.
Some took advantage of the buses having to slow down on part of a road between Polokwane and Makhado that was undergoing maintenance, according to the reports.
Zimbabwe’s consul general to South Africa Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro said the fact that deportees are often not allowed to collect their belongings before being sent home may be partly to blame.
Mukonoweshuro was quoted as saying: “The deportation process needs to be reviewed to avoid such incidents.”
The Chronicle said more than 14 300 people were deported from South Africa between March and November this year.
South Africa has now introduced a “self-deportation” process, which sees immigrants having to pay R350 to go home.
Those without money are usually deported at the weekend in trucks belonging to South Africa’s home affairs department, Mukonoweshuro was quoted as saying.