Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has refuted false messages circulating on social media alleging that the department has called for the immediate deportations of undocumented migrants from some African countries.
We will not incite citizens to take the law into their hands when we have the legal means ourselves lawfully to control illegal migration and effect deportations as necessary, the Minister said on Sunday.
Addressing the media in Pretoria, Minister Gigaba said international migration is a global phenomenon, and is increasingly prominent in political and social discourse in many countries.
This is understandable, as it deals with core issues of citizenship, nationhood and belonging. It is tied to issues of economic opportunity.
South Africa, like many countries around the world, plays a careful balancing act in managing immigration. We value our connectedness with the rest of the world, our citizens visit and migrate to other countries, and so do we receive visitors and migrants from other countries, the Minister said.
Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) programme
With regard to developments on the Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) programme, Minister Gigaba said the application process has run its course and the amnesty and moratorium not to deport will be lifted on 31 March 2017.
The LSP was approved by Cabinet in 2015 and the application process commenced in March 2016, with a closing date of June 2016. It was later extended to September 2016, and was extended to 31 December 2016.
According to the Minister, the total number of online applications submitted at VFS was 127 048 and by the closing date, 88 563 Basotho nationals had completed the application process.
Basotho nationals who produced Lesotho ID cards or birth certificates when applying, without valid passports, and still with outstanding documents, must provide all supporting documents before 31 March 2017, to finalise their application, Minister Gigaba said.
Accordingly, those who have paid by 31 December 2016 but have not completed the application process by 31 March 2017 will be deported, just as we deport all other undocumented persons in the country.
We request employers and schools to allow all Basotho nationals who have applied for the LSP permit to continue their employment and school attendance using their proof of application receipt until the LSP permit is issued, Minister Gigaba said.
To date, 31 019 permits have been collected. Applicants must phone VFS call-centre to check and collect their permits.
LSP benefits are to:
Relieve pressure from the asylum seeker management process;
Provide amnesty to Basotho who obtained SA documents fraudulently;
Regularise Basotho residing in South Africa undocumented; and
Suspend deportation of Basotho who reside in the SA undocumented, by allowing them to apply for LSP, except those persons who are convicted criminals.
Festive season movements
Touching on the festive season movements in the country, Minister Gigaba said between the period 9 December 2016 to 14 January 2017, over 1.4 million movements of citizens in and out of South Africa were recorded.
Like many countries, we strive to attract tourists, business travellers, skilled workers and investors. As part of our foreign policy which supports the integration and development of our region and continent, we are committed to making it easier for Africans to move in Africa, Minister Gigaba said.
Minister Gigaba said like all countries around the world, South Africa prioritises its citizens when it comes to employment and other economic opportunities.
Foreign nationals play an important role in bringing new knowledge, skills, networks and dynamism, but like all countries, we expect them to complement our workers, not be a substitute for them, he said.
Source: South African Government News Agency