Lesotho nationals living in South Africa illegally have been given until 2019, a chance by the Department of Home Affairs to apply for an SA special permit to legalize their stay.
This information was passed on by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba during a visit to the Lesotho Special Permit Centre in Midrand‚ Johannesburg‚ on Tuesday. He said the offer will help make them legal and permanent residents of the country.
“We want people to realise that this special permit is intended to make the lives of Basotho people easier. What we are trying to do here is to create a unique situation in which the biometric data of the individuals is in possession of both the South African and Lesotho governments‚” Gigaba said.
He added that through the system, South Africa and Lesotho will have a good relationship which will enable free movement between both countries.
Among the criteria listed is that people should prove that they are employed under the category of “critical skills” or better still bring forward their employers to vouch for them.
Basotho people were admonished by Gigaba to provide proof of employment so that they can benefit in the SA special permit process. “If you sign the proof of employment for your employee next year‚ the process will already be closed. We want as many people as possible to come forward (to register).”
However, the SA special permit process will only be enjoyed by those who were already in the country before 30 September 2015‚ and will only be valid until 31 December 2019.
So far, 117 permits have been issued by the department of home affairs while over 5‚460 applications have been received.
The minister explained that the applications will be facilitated online on the Visa Facilitation Services Global website‚ while the adjudication will be handled by the SA department of Home Affairs.
The CEO of Visa Facilitation Services Global‚ Jiten Vyas‚ said the company is adopting several means to handle the applications and to make the process easier.
“We are making every effort to expand our community outreach. So besides fixed application centres‚ we are also launching mobile centres and week-long registration drives at different locations to reach a maximum number of applicants.”
Hopefully by June 2016‚ there will be a reasonable response rate from the citizens of Lesotho as this will help them move freely and do business in South Africa.