Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has on Wednesday cautioned that the end-of-September deadline set for Lesotho nationals to regularise their stay in South Africa by acquiring work permits will not be extended.
“We’re now close to closing the Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) application process. We had announced that this process would close at the end of June. We then extended it to the end of September. We’re sticking to that end of September deadline for the closing of the applications,” Gigaba told reporters at a Visa and permit facilitation centre in Rustenburg.
“We expect that the adjudication process and the issuing of the permits will take place until December. At the present moment, we have about 40 000 who have successfully filed their online applications. We also have more people who have submitted their applications but have not paid. We will see how we can accommodate them.”
About 66 000 Lesotho nationals have applied, but the 40 000 have completed the application process by making a payment to the South African authorities.
Gigaba said “there will be no further extensions” once the application phase is concluded later this month.
The South African home affairs department, working in conjuction with their Lesotho counterparts, have made it possible for Basotho based in various parts of South Africa to apply for their smart identity cards and passports without returning to Maseru.
Gigaba said the 40 000 successful applications prove there has been “an enthusiastic response from Lesotho nationals based in South Africa for this LSP”.
Lesotho Home Affairs minister Lekgetho Rakuoane said the LSP project had helped his country to update the database of its citizens’ population register, incorporating those working, studying or living in South Africa.
“Our database issue now quite improved. There are a lot of people who have been added into the database. This LSP platform has opened that opportunity for us,” said Rakuoane.
The Lesotho minister saluted Pretoria authorities for the “gesture of goodwill”.
“It has been a huge relief which has been welcomed. This is indeed a gesture of goodwill,” said Rakuoane.
In June 2016, Gigaba’s department announced a three-month extension of the LSP applications phase, following a request by the Lesotho authorities. Maseru has deployed staff at various centres in South Africa to facilitate birth registration and identity documents enrolment.
– African News Agency (ANA)