Peter Bruce mentioned in a recent Sunday Times column an example of government policy idiocy: an Italian restaurateur — an employer of at least 10 people — being forced to close his business in SA because the department of home affairs refused to renew his son’s work visa.

I live in a region of SA that is much loved by foreigners, many of them German, but also British, Dutch, Swiss and American. Some of them have invested in homes here, a demonstration of faith not shared by all South Africans. One such couple, both surgeons, applied for permanent residence. Home affairs granted the husband this, but not his wife. She is limited to a 90-day visa. Another German homeowner applied for permanent residence nearly three years ago but has had no word of his application’s success, despite repeated inquiries.

People like these are a mainstay of the economy of my town. They use the services of gardeners, housekeepers, letting agents, plumbers, electricians, maintenance men, lawyers, accountants, mechanics, car dealers, restaurants, golf courses and all sorts of businesses that employ people, including shops and supermarkets.

But most of them can do this for 90 days only. What a difference it could make to all they support if their visas were extended to six months, for example. Yet it would seem that the ANC government and home affairs consider them undesirable and make life as difficult as they can for them. They are not seeking SA citizenship and a vote; they simply want to spend their euros here.

John Hinton
By e-mail

The FM welcomes concise letters from readers. They can be sent to fmmail@fm.co.za