Deadline extension for SA permits
BASOTHO living in South Africa illegally have been given up to 31 March 2017 to finalise their applications for the four-year Lesotho Special Permit (LSP).
The deadline is for the submission of all relevant documents to support their LSP applications.
Addressing a press conference in Maseru this week, Home Affairs Minister Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane said the required documents included a birth certificate, national identity document, reference letter from the employer and a passport.
He said the failure to submit all the required documentation on or before the 31 March deadline rendered applications void and would result in a refund of the application fee.
“All Basotho working in South Africa who will not apply for LSPS before 31 December 2016 and currently working in South Africa without proper and relevant documentation will be in trouble and risk being arrested or deported,” Adv Rakuoane said.
“I therefore appeal to all Basotho to take this crucial opportunity to avoid bitter consequences and never cry for split milk.
“I further appeal to all Basotho to take this last opportunity to apply for LSP so that they can continue with their various businesses in South Africa such as studying, working and starting their own businesses,” Adv Rakuoane said.
Adv Rakuoane said the deadline extension was agreed after negotiations with his South African counterpart Malusi Gigaba.
He said the extension was necessitated by Basotho’s struggles in getting reference letters from employers and municipalities. The minister pointed out that seasonal workers and students also experienced difficulties in meeting the previous deadline.
Adv Rakuoane said 102 316 Basotho had applied for the LSP, while 64 427 had paid fees and were waiting to be called to Visa and Permit Facilitation Centres.
For his part, Mr Gigaba said South Africa had found it necessary to grant the extension after requests and further consultations with the Lesotho government.
“The LSP Technical Committee, led by our Director-general Mkuseli Apleni and Lesotho Principal Secretary of Home Affairs, Advocate Habokhethoe Sekonyela met again to monitor progress. They reiterated the commitment of the two countries to treat the project as a high priority,” Mr Gigaba said.
“Among the major constraints identified was access to online services, connectivity, and low support by employers for their Basotho employees and assistance from schools where children from Lesotho study.”
He appealed to employers and school principals to provide the requisite letters without fear as there would be no consequences for them during the amnesty period.
Mr Gigaba said Basotho must have applied and paid by 31 December 2016 to avoid the negative consequences.
“Beyond this date, money will be refunded where the application process is incomplete and deportations will also kick in for those found in the country without enabling documents that legalise their stay.
“Lesotho nationals who have applied should phone the VFS call centre to check if their permits are ready for collection and duly collect them. Basotho who produced Lesotho ID cards when applying without valid passports are to provide their passports latest 31 December 2016,” Mr Gigaba said.
Mr Gigaba added: “From 01 January 2017 all those who have paid but have not completed the application process by end March 2017 will face deportation. This goes also for those who did not make any attempt to regularise their stay in South Africa.”
The minister said they had names of those who filled in the forms but had not completed the process, adding, “their names will be referred to the ports of entry for listing. The amnesty and the moratorium not to deport will be lifted on 31 March 2017”.
He said extra effort would be made between now and December to encourage more people to complete the process and collect their special permits.
“Our teams will go out to where people are and also streamline the application and payment process to make it easier for the applicants,” said Mr Gigaba.
SA Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba and his counterpart Advocate Lekhetho Rakuoane.