The Department of Home Affairs has given Lesotho nationals living in South Africa illegally‚ a chance to apply for a special permit until 2019.
Speaking during a visit to the Lesotho Special Permit Centre in Midrand‚ Johannesburg‚ on Tuesday‚ Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said this would make their residence in the country permanent.
“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‚” said Gigaba.
He said the system would help South Africa in the long run in terms of enabling free movement between the two countries as data would be shared amongst the departments of both countries.
Some of the requirements are that people should prove that they are employed under the category of “critical skills” or have their employers come forward to vouch for them.
Gigaba also appealed to employers of Basotho people to provide proof of employment so that they can take advantage of the 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].”
The special permit process only applies to those who were already in the country before 30 September 2015‚ and will only be valid until 31 December 2019.
To date‚ 117 permits have been issued by the department and over 5‚460 applications have been made.
According to the minister‚ the applications will be facilitated online on the Visa Facilitation Services Global website‚ but the adjudication will be handled by the SA department of Home Affairs.
CEO of VFS Global‚ Jiten Vyas‚ said the company was ready to handle the applications. “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.”
Vyas said they hope that by June 2016‚ they will have had a high response rate from the citizens of Lesotho so that they can move freely between their home and their places of work or business in South Africa.