South Africa: Home Affairs grants residency to majority of Angolan former refugees

Published: 10/Jul/2017
Source: Scalabrini Centre (Cape Town)

In an historic decision, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has granted rights equivalent to permanent residency to the majority of applications that were submitted on ‘special grounds’ by a group of Angolan former refugees. These applications were the applicants’ last attempt to remain in South Africa – a country where they have spent, on average, the last 20 years of their lives. ‘All parties involved have worked very hard on this case.

We welcome DHA’s decision to grant these applicants rights of residency, especially in our national context where increasing numbers of migrants are falling into undocumented states. We look forward to engaging further with DHA about this as we are anxious that these applicants will face uncertainty again in 2021’ says Miranda Madikane, director of the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town (SCCT).

A total of 1,702 applications were considered by DHA. Aside from those with criminal records or with police clearance certificates pending, applicants were granted a ‘blanket’ exemption, providing them with permanent residency for a period of four years.

The Minister of Home Affairs granted permanent residency to 1,227 applicants (72% of applications considered), subject to them providing biometrics, photographs and, in some cases, further documentation.

Permanent residency applications from those with criminal records will be decided on at a later date on a case-by-case basis. Applicants now hold those rights associated with permanent residency, which are effectively all the rights, privileges, duties and obligations of a citizen, save for voting and establishing a political party.

However, it is not clear what will happen after this four-year period. The SCCT would like to seek clarification from DHA as to why only four years of residency has been granted and would be grateful for a response as soon as possible.

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Themes: Nationality and Refugees
Regions: South Africa
Year: 2017