LSP: Spurn not this last chance
IT is not every day that people are afforded the proverbial second bite of the cherry but with the extension of the deadline for the application for Lesotho Special Permits (LSP). Basotho staying illegally in South Africa were afforded just that opportunity.
As explained in this edition by South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, the LSP was introduced in 2015 to give Basotho the right to work, study or do business in that country lawfully.
Anyone who has observed the frequent cat and mouse games that play out between illegal immigrants and South Africa’s law enforcement agencies will testify that it is not a good life to be constantly looking over one’s shoulder and living on the edge. Why would anyone choose that life when there is an easier way out offered by such special dispensations like the LSP which even allow the holders access to decent services including bank accounts and enrolment in schools and tertiary institutions?
The initial closing date was 30 June 2016 but it was subsequently extended to 30 September amid indications of apathy on the part of the intended beneficiaries. There are an estimated 400 000 Basotho in South Africa and most of these are said to be without the required documentation or have fraudulent documentation in contravention of the relevant immigration laws.
And despite the free opportunity offered and even extended for them to regularise their stay, indications are that just over 66 000 have bothered to apply so far.
“We accepted a request from the Lesotho authorities to extend for three months, ending this month, to allow more time for Basotho to apply,” Mr Gigaba said in a statement after his visit to Rustenburg in South Africa’s North West province to urge Basotho to make use of the remaining three weeks to submit their applications.
“The total number of applications received online is 66 164. Out of these, the number of applicants who made the necessary payment and booked appointments to visit VFS centres to complete the process is 42 185. Of these, 39 195 applications have gone through at VFS,” he further stated.
“We are only 23 days to the closing day. I therefore urge Basotho nationals, who had not applied, to visit various centres provided by the Lesotho government to complete their birth registration and ID enrolment so they can apply for the special permit before the end of September (2016).
It is mind-boggling why people would spurn such opportunities to do the lawful and beneficial thing by simply applying. Fears that this may simply be a ruse to flush out illegal immigrants are without any foundation. If anything, Basotho should take comfort in that before them, the same facility was extended to Zimbabweans who to all intents and purposes presented a far greater immigrant problem with their numbers being estimated to be in excess of three million in South Africa. While some were sceptical in the beginning, there were last minute rushes and some even failed to meet the deadline to access the special permits and have lived to rue their earlier misgivings. That should be a wake-up call to Basotho. Where South African authorities were pleading with people to apply, the tone could be more different and the law enforcement agents not so friendly after the September deadline.
Imagine in these troubled days of illegal African immigrants perishing in the high seas in voyages to Europe where they are generally unwelcome. Closer to home, there is still a window of opportunity without the attendant dangers confronting those attempting to cross the seas. It is unlikely there will be further extensions to the deadline and Basotho who fail to comply can only have no one but themselves to blame.