Pretoria – Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on Thursday announced that the Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) application process will start on 1 March 2016.
The LSP dispensation will commence with the cooperation of the South African and Lesotho Governments and is similar in nature to the Zimbabwe Special Permit.
Initially, government had announced that the process will commence on 1 February.
Addressing the media in Pretoria, Minister Gigaba said during the LSP application process, the department will not be deporting or arresting Lesotho nationals who are in the country illegally.
It is estimated that there are about 400 000 to 500 000 Lesotho nationals who are residing in South Africa.
The purpose of the LSP is to regularise the stay of Lesotho nationals currently residing in South Africa illegally as well as to document Lesotho nationals who are working, studying or running businesses in South Africa, without appropriate documentation.
The special permit will be valid for four years – expiring on 31 December 2019.
Minister Gigaba said Basotho nationals who qualify to apply for the Lesotho Special Permit are those people who with illegal documents and those who are in the country illegally.
To qualify for the special permit, the applicant must have a valid passport or travel document, be registered on the Lesotho National Population Register and have police clearance from both Lesotho and South Africa.
Applicants must also provide proof of employment in the form of an affidavit from the employer to be issued with a work permit.
Applicants must ensure they have a business registration with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and CIPRO to get a Business Permit and registration from an educational institution for a Study Permit.
To ease the process, more visa application offices will be established in the Free State and in Lesotho.
Minister Gigaba called on the employers not to take any decisions that will jeopardise their employees’ jobs. “If they are not sure, we urge them to call the department for clarity,” he said.
The Minister said the LSP will prevent Lesotho nationals from unscrupulous employers who at times do not pay them because of their status in the country.
Undocumented migrants often face abusive and exploitive situations in the hands of local employers, including low wages, poor working conditions, a myriad of exploitative labour practices and human rights violations.
Minister Gigaba had earlier in the day met with his Lesotho counterpart Lekhetho Rakuane to discuss the state of readiness for the implementation of the LSP.
Minister Rakuane said he was pleased by the initiative.
The two Ministers will tomorrow visit the Lindela Repatriation Centre.