Lesotho nationals living in South Africa illegally have been urged to come forward and apply for a special permit. Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said those who do so will not face any repercussions, and will instead be able to move around the country more freely.
“Those who get the permit will be free to travel in the country without fear of prosecution by the authorities.”
On Tuesday, Gigaba visited the Lesotho Special Permit Centre in Midrand to assess the levels of applications. He was joined by his Lesotho counterpart, advocate Borenahabokhethe Sekonyela, Lesotho's principal secretary for home affairs.
The pair interacted with the dozens of Basothos who heeded the call to get their documentation in order and apply for the permit.
Among them was Mareitu-metse Fefane, a domestic worker who has been staying illegally in the country for the past 14 years. She was one of those at the centre who personally received her permit from the minister.
“I didn’t have an ID before, so I went to apply so I could have a work permit,” she said.
“This process was easy and quick, the people were very helpful every step of the way.”
While briefing the media, Gigaba also called on people who have been employing Lesotho nationals to follow the correct procedures and rectify the situation.
“Please sign proof of em-ployment for the Lesotho nationals who want to apply for the permit. Those who do won’t be prosecuted, but if they are found after the deadline, they would have breached the Immigration Act,” he warned.
Gigaba said the process to get the permit begins with Lesotho nationals getting their identity documents from their home country. He said it would also allow the country to share biometric data with Lesotho.
“It will help South Africa to have a database of foreigners in the country.”
The special dispensation for Lesotho nationals working, studying or running a business in South Africa is applicable to those who have been in the country since before September 30, 2015.
Those who have been in South Africa for less than 12 months need to have a police clearance certificate from Lesotho that is not more than six months old. The government granted a moratorium on deportations until December 31, 2016.