Ba­sotho in dilemma over SA per­mits

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Pas­cali­nah Kabi

Thou­sands of Ba­sotho who were granted amnesty this month for il­le­gally work­ing and stay­ing in south africa could be forced to break the law once again.

an­nounc­ing the amnesty and spe­cial fouryear per­mits last month, home affairs Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba said the move was aimed at reg­u­lar­iz­ing the stay of el­i­gi­ble Ba­sotho in the neigh­bour­ing coun­try.

The per­mits would be valid from 1 May 2016 to 30 april 2020 and ap­pli­ca­tions for the spe­cial doc­u­ments be­gin in Fe­bru­ary 2016. Mr Gi­gaba also said the de­por­ta­tion of un­doc­u­mented Ba­sotho had been stopped un­til the end of 2016.

“In oc­to­ber 2015, Cab­i­net ap­proved the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Le­sotho spe­cial Per­mit (LSP). The in­ten­tion of the dis­pen­sa­tion is to reg­u­larise the stay of Le­sotho na­tion­als cur­rently re­sid­ing il­le­gally in south africa, some with fraud­u­lently ob­tained doc­u­ments, and oth­ers abus­ing the visa waiver be­tween our two coun­tries.

“The per­mit will as­sist greatly in en­sur­ing that all per­sons in south africa are here on a law­ful ba­sis, with cor­rect doc­u­men­ta­tion, while sup­port­ing ef­forts to bet­ter man­age labour flows from South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity (sadc) states,” said Mr Gi­gaba.

“The spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion is for Le­sotho na­tion­als who are work­ing, study­ing or run­ning busi­nesses in south africa with­out ap­pro­pri­ate doc­u­men­ta­tion, and have been in the coun­try in such ca­pac­ity be­fore 30 septem­ber 2015.

“In the long run, this mas­sive pro­ject will ad­vance the goals of the na­tional de­vel­op­ment Plan, pre­cisely be­cause Le­sotho na­tion­als with spe­cial per­mits will work law­fully, pay taxes, and con­trib­ute to the coun­try’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and growth, as well as that of their coun­try. We trust that the pro­ject will pro­mote greater co­op­er­a­tion on man­ag­ing mi­gra­tion chal­lenges be­tween the two coun­tries.”

The min­is­ter also em­pha­sised that the per­mit would pro­tect Ba­sotho from ex­ploita­tion and un­nec­es­sary ha­rass­ment while in south africa.

“Ba­sotho in the coun­try will en­joy pro­tec­tion from un­law­ful labour prac­tices, fraud and cor­rup­tion. This we owe to the peo­ple of the sadc re­gion and our neigh­bour, Le­sotho, which his­tor­i­cally en­joys close kin­ship ties with south africa and its peo­ple. It makes no busi­ness sense to sus­tain fund­ing for de­por­ta­tions that can clearly be avoided, with Le­sotho be­ing among the four high­est coun­tries whose na­tion­als south africa de­ports.

“To fa­cil­i­tate the smooth im­ple­men­ta­tion of the spe­cial dis­pen­sa­tion, we will grant a mora­to­rium on de­por­ta­tions un­til 31 de­cem­ber 2016 to Le­sotho na­tion­als,” the min­is­ter an­nounced.

“how­ever, the mora­to­rium will ex­clude per­sons with neg­a­tive po­lice clear­ance and those who have been re­leased from prison af­ter serv­ing their sen­tences.

“an amnesty will be granted to Le­sotho na­tion­als who vol­un­tar­ily sur­ren­der fraud­u­lent per­mits or south african pass­ports and Ids. I wish to take this op­por­tu­nity to ask Ba­sotho to come for­ward and sur­ren­der th­ese doc­u­ments to avoid im­pris­on­ment, and im­prove their stay in south africa”.

To qual­ify for the spe­cial per­mits, ap­pli­cants must have valid pass­ports or travel doc­u­ments; be reg­is­tered on the Le­sotho na­tional Pop­u­la­tion Reg­is­ter sys­tem; have po­lice clear­ance from Le­sotho and south africa; pro­vide proof of em­ploy­ment and busi­ness reg­is­tra­tion and reg­is­tra­tion from an ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion.

But ac­cord­ing to Ba­sotho who com­plied with the of­fer and re­turned home has­sle-free at the bor­der for the fes­tive sea­son, most of them need to be back in south africa by this week­end to save their jobs.

The mi­grants also ex­pressed con­cern that their pass­ports were in­scribed with spe­cial red mark­ers by south african im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials whose im­pli­ca­tions they did not know. on the Le­sotho side, the mi­grants’ names

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