Media Statement on Minister Gigaba’s visit to the Lesotho Special Permit Centre
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba visited the Lesotho Special Permit Facilitation and Application Centre in Midrand today, Tuesday, 10 May 2016, to both hand out permits to applicants and encourage all other Lesotho nationals living and working in South Africa to make use of the service centres to apply for the Lesotho Special Permit (LSP).
The LSP is issued under the special dispensation for Lesotho nationals who are working, studying or running businesses in South Africa and have been in the country in such capacity before 30 September 2015. The LSP is issued only to those Lesotho Citizens who are currently registered in the National Population Register of Lesotho.
The Department of Home Affairs has granted an amnesty to those in possession of fraudulently acquired documentation. During the LSP application period, Basotho nationals who qualify for the LSP will not be deported. The LSP will be valid until 31 December 2019. There are between 400 000 to 500 000 Basotho living and working in South Africa according to Lesotho’s National Population Register. Many of them are living in South Africa illegally and without proper documentation, thus the need to regularize their stay.
Minister Gigaba was briefed by Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) management on the levels of applications since the process was opened in February 2016. Up to 5694 applications have been successfully submitted.
“We are not happy with the uptake thus far and wish to urgently appeal to those Lesotho nationals who have not visited these centres to do so and use this opportunity to regularize their stay in the country. The centres are open on weekends to assist applicants to complete the online application process,”
says Minister Gigaba.
“We want to see the Basotho becoming a part of South African society without fear of deportation and to formalize their stay in South Africa, mindful of the contribution that they are making to the economy here and in their country.”
Minister Gigaba further appealed to employers to issue their employees with letters confirming employment of the prospective LSP applicants, which is one of the key requirements of the application process.
“We have noted that most employers of Lesotho nationals have been reluctant to issue employment letters to allow them to finalise the application process. I must emphasise that once we close this process without them being registered and thus being in their employ without proper documentation, we will apply the law according to the Immigration Act,” explained Minister Gigaba.
Every effort has been made to ensure this service is broadly available with application centres set up around the country in strategic regions of high Basotho population density. The consultants at each centre are well-equipped to provide support to the applicants.
Minister Gigaba said it was important that Basotho nationals took advantage of this special dispensation and made every effort to apply for the permit.
“We understand there may be fear, but this initiative is designed to help all Basotho here in South Africa. It is important that you do this and become legal in South Africa,” he said.