South Africa will soon begin deporting undocumented Lesotho nationals but will not mimic US President Donald Trump’s attitude towards migrants from neighboring Mexico in doing so.
Department of Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on Sunday gave an update on the Lesotho Special Permit application process‚ which closed last month.
The special permits were introduced to regularise the stay of Basotho people in South Africa for work‚ study or business.
For the duration of application process‚ Basotho in South Africa unlawfully were protected by amnesty but this will come to an end on March 31‚ the deadline for applicants to submit outstanding documents to the department.
From April deportations of those who failed to apply for their special permits will begin‚ Gigaba said.
Gigaba said‚ however‚ that the department was not seeking the “Trump solution” for dealing with any people in the country illegally.
“The Trump approach‚ we will never support it. We think it’s going to compound [strained] relations between the US and Mexico. We think the United States is going to suffer.”
During his election campaign last year‚ Trump created a storm of controversy when he vowed to build a wall along the US-Mexico border to keep Mexicans from entering the US illegally.
Trump has also ordered a travel ban to the US for refugees and other travelers from seven Muslim countries since taking office.
“In the mind of a narrow-minded person such measures may seem credible. But someone who has a long-term view will realise that this is going to be very costly in terms of human life [and] in terms of economic resources‚” Gigaba said.
He said that the Lesotho government had cooperated well with the special permit application process.
A total of 127‚048 online special permit applications have been submitted. By the end of December‚ 88‚563 Basotho nationals had completed the application process‚ while the rest still have outstanding documents due.
The department will now focus on adjudicating the applications and issuing permits. To date‚ 31‚019 permits have been collected.
Gigaba said the permits aim to relieve pressure from the asylum seeker management process‚ provide amnesty to Basotho who obtained SA documents fraudulently and regularise Basotho residing in South Africa undocumented.
No applications have been rejected thus far.
Gigaba also tackled anti-immigrant sentiments doing the rounds on social media‚ alleging the department has called for the immediate deportation of undocumented migrants from African countries.
“We will not incite citizens to take the law into their hands when we have the legal means ourselves lawfully to control illegal migration and effect deportations as necessary.”
He said the government ultimately wants to accommodate free movement for the citizens of all African countries‚ but that this needs to be managed gradually.