South Africa: Legal uncertainty for former Angolan refugees

Published: 21/Oct/2019
Source: New Frame (Johannesburg)

Former Angolan refugees in South Africa are living in a catch-22 as the government remains silent on the renewal of residency permits or upgrading of their legal status to permanent residency.

By: Jan Bornman

Caught in uncertainty, former Angolan refugees in South Africa are anxiously waiting to see what the future holds as their special permits near expiry.

Many of these former refugees arrived in South Africa in the early 1990s, fleeing civil war in Angola. But in 2013, on advice from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), they became the first refugees in South Africa to have their status ceased.

The Department of Home Affairs issued the former Angolan refugees with an Angolan Cessation Permit in 2013, but these expired two years later. Following the expiry of these permits, the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town had to enter into negotiations with the department to consider permanent residency for many of the former refugees.

Following court proceedings by Scalabrini, the department agreed to grant rights of permanent residency to many of the Angolans who were applying for an Angolan Special Permit (ASP). It started issuing the former applicants with permits, which had four conditions attached to them, including the right to work and study.

They did not, however, give the holder the option of permanent residency, and the permits weren’t renewable or extendable beyond the end of 2021, when all the ASPs expire.

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Themes: Naturalisation and Marriage, Nationality and Refugees
Regions: South Africa
Year: 2019