‘Time running out on SA permits’
HOME Affairs Principal Secretary (PS) Advocate Borenahabokhethe Sekonyela has warned Basotho not to miss the 30 June 2016 deadline for registration of special permits South Africa is offering eligible Lesotho citizens.
According to Advocate Sekonyela, South Africa would not accept new applications for the four-year permits after the deadline.
More than 15 000 Basotho have so far applied for the permits which would allow them to work, study, and do business in South Africa from 30 June 2016 to 30 April 2020.
South Africa’s Home Affairs department started receiving the applications on 1 March 2016 at a cost of M970.
To qualify for the permits, applicants must have a valid passport, be registered on the Lesotho National Population Register system, have police clearance from Lesotho and South Africa, provide proof of employment, business registration and registration from an educational institution.
“All the applicants are expected to have registered by 30 June 2015 as the permits will all expire at once,” said Advocate Sekonyela this week.
“There won’t be any new registrations after 30 June 2016. If prospective applicants miss out, then it’s their loss because there won’t be any late registrations.”
He said there were many benefits to being a bona fide migrant including the freedom to work anywhere in the neighboring country.
“Among the benefits of the special permits is that Basotho won’t be stuck with one employer should they want to get a job elsewhere. They won’t have to bribe their way out of South Africa because they would have overstayed, and they will make savings as they will come to Lesotho only when there is a pressing need to do so,” Advocate Sekonyela said.
The Vice-consul of Lesotho in Johannesburg, Tumisang Mokoai told the Lesotho Times ignorance of how the process is done and the prohibitive cost were some of the challenges Basotho were facing in the application process. He said the cost of the special permit equals some of the prospective applicants’ salaries.
“We understand that the special permits are expensive for our people but unfortunately there isn’t much that we can do to subsidise the cost as the money pays for the services we get from South Africa,” said Mr Mokoai.
He said some Basotho could afford the application fee, but feared getting arrested for having illegal permits.
“Some do have the money but had already obtained the documents illegally. They are afraid to come forth to obtain legal documents lest they are arrested,” Mr Mokoai said.
“We really urge Basotho to take this opportunity because, should they be traced and found with illegal documents after the registration, they will face the wrath of the law which we won’t be able to help them out.”
He said they had embarked on intensive outreach programmes in such places as churches and schools in South Africa to raise awareness on the special permits.
“We have targeted schools because the South African authorities have made it very clear that no pupil would sit for their final examinations without proper documents,” said Mr Mokoai.
Basotho attending an outreach programme for the special permit in Sebokeng Zone 10 in South Africa.