LSP: Spurn not this last chance

Lesotho Times - - Leader -

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.

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