Source: Scalabrini Centre (Cape Town)
Angolan former refugees, who have been living in South Africa for decades, are being issued Angolan Special Permits (ASP) by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) following years of precarious legality in the country. Whilst we welcome and celebrate the issuance of ASPs, we share the concerns of these former refugees around their futures – the ASPs expire in 2021 and are non-renewable.
Fleeing in the late 1990s, Angolans were some of the first refugees in post-apartheid South Africa. In 2013, they were the first refugees in South Africa to have had their status ceased. Upon this cessation, ‘Angolan Cessation Permits’ (ACP) were issued. These permits expired in 2015, upon which the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town (SCCT) entered into negotiations with DHA to consider permanent residency for the group. This resulted in a Court Order issued by the Western Cape High Court, in which ACP permit holders were asked to provide the Minister of Home Affairs with documentation proving their socio-economic integration into South Africa and outlining their reasons for wanting to remain permanently in the country. The applications were made in terms of Section 31(2)(b) of the Immigration Act, and included police clearance certificates, bank statements, employment contractsand support letters. On 15 February 2017, the SCCT handed in 160 lever-arch files to DHA, documenting the lives of 1,757 Angolan applicants. In July 2017, the Minister of Home Affairs issued a decision to grant rights of permanent residency to the majority of Angolan applicants. DHA is now beginning to issue these applicants with ASPs.