A home affairs office in Alberton, south of Johannesburg. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL
A home affairs office in Alberton, south of Johannesburg. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL

The department of home affairs has moved to ensure that Lesotho nationals working in SA do not find themselves without permits, extending their exemption for the next four years.

“Given the expiry of the Lesotho special permit and the need to ensure all persons in SA are here on a lawful basis, with correct documentation, a new four-year special dispensation for Lesotho nationals has been approved,” the department said.

The department opened the application process for the new Lesotho exemption permit which will grant Basotho nationals the right to work, study and do business in SA.

The permit is an extension of a previous dispensation which was introduced in 2015 and is due to expire on December 31.

According to the department, the objective of the initial dispensation was to document Lesotho nationals who were in SA illegally as a result of the socioeconomic crisis in that country. While it suspended their deportation, it allowed Lesotho nationals to sojourn in SA with relaxed conditions and granted them the right to work, study and do business.

The new dispensation is only applicable to existing holders of the special permit, the department said. When the special dispensation for Lesotho nationals was implemented in 2015, a total of 90,314 special permits were issued.

The new permit comes with various conditions, including that holders do not have the right to apply for permanent residence irrespective of the period of stay in SA. The permit will not be automatically renewable-extendable and does not allow a holder to change conditions of his or her permit while in SA.

“The new Lesotho exemption permit will help to regularise the stay of Lesotho nationals who are already in SA.”

Home Affairs said it will accept appointments for the Lesotho exemption permit from Monday, November 18. The cut-off date for submission of online applications is the end of March 2020.

The department has a similar special dispensation for Zimbabwean nationals that allows them to stay‚ work‚ study and conduct businesses legally in SA.

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