Krugersdorp – Basotho nationals who are in South Africa illegally or who have fraudulent documents have been given until the end of June this year to acquire valid documents.
This follows an agreement reached between South Africa and Lesotho to implement the Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) dispensation from 1 March 2016.
Addressing the media at the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Krugersdorp on Friday, Minister Gigaba explained that 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.
To qualify for the special permit, an applicant must have a valid Lesotho 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.
During the Lesotho Special Programme Basotho nationals who are in the country illegally will not be deported back to their country. It is estimated that there are about 400 000 to 500 000 Lesotho nationals who are residing in South Africa.
Minister Gigaba said amnesty will also be extended to those who have completed their sentences in the various prisons in the country.
The special permit will be valid for four years – expiring on 31 December 2019.
To ease the process, more visa application offices will be established in the Free State and in Lesotho.
Minister Gigaba told journalists he hoped the programme will run smoothly and without hiccups.
“We believe that the programme will deepen the relations between South Africa and Lesotho,” he said.
Lesotho Home Affairs Minister Lekhetho Rakuane appealed to employers who have Basotho nationals in their employ to assist by giving them employment letters so they can apply for the Lesotho Special Permit.
“The exercise is meant to prevent things like human trafficking of Basotho nationals and to ensure that all the Basotho nationals are documented,” he said.
Rakuane is in the country to finalise the agreement on the implementation of the Lesotho Special Permit. At a media briefing in Pretoria on Thursday, the two countries indicated they were ready to implement the programme.
The two ministers visited the Lindela Repatriation Centre on Friday to check on conditions at the centre.