Source: Scalabrini Centre (Cape Town)
Statement issued on behalf of Non-Profit organisation, the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town to former Angolan Refugees still living in South Africa on expired Angolan Cessation Permits – a small window is now open for these Angolans to attempt to regularize his or her stay by submitting an application for permanent residency as detailed below.
Following a year of legal steps and negotiations between the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town (SCCT) and the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) regarding the legal status of former Angolan refugees in South Africa, the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Malusi Gigaba, has agreed to consider and determine applications for permanent residence in terms of section 31(2)(b) of the Immigration Act for all former Angolan refugees who were issued temporary Angolan Cessation Permits (ACP) and who were unable to legalise their documentation once these ACP permits expired.
In 2013, the South African government, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) and the government of Angola agreed that Angolan refugees living in South Africa no longer needed the protection of the South African government since the Angolan civil war had concluded and political stability returned to Angola. This decision was pursuant to UNHCR’s 2012 recommendation that refugee status for Angolans who fled the civil war should cease. These three entities cooperated to create a special permit process for the former Angolan refugees unwilling to return to Angola in the form of ACP permits. This category of permit allowed those who qualified to continue to live, work and study in South Africa for another two years and did not require the former Angolan refugees to meet the stringent requirements for regular permits as found under the Immigration Act. The SCCT created a short documentary, ‘The Cessation’, detailing the experiences of three Angolans going through the cessation process.
Many Angolan refugees have lived in South Africa for decades – on average 18 years – and have started businesses, attained higher degrees and added skills to the economy of this country as found in the SCCT’s research report ‘Angola is just a picture in my mind‘. An entire generation of children born to Angolan parents have grown up in South Africa and this is the only country they have ever known. The ACP process, however, only allowed these individuals and families to remain here for two more years after which point they would be required to legalise their stay under the Immigration Act – the special ACP permits were not eligible for renewal.
As the inability of this group to legalise their stay became apparent, the SCCT began discussions with DHA in May 2014 to advocate for their continued legal stay based on their strong ties to South Africa. The SCCT strongly believes that the two year temporary permits did not constitute a durable solution to end the refugee status of this group. On behalf of these Angolans, the SCCT submitted a group exemption application for permanent residence for all former Angolan refugees whose ACP permits have expired in October 2015 in terms of section 31(2)(b) of the Immigration Act. After discussions with DHA, Honourable Justice Gamble of the Western Cape High Court issued an Order which outlines a process by which all former Angolan refugees with expired ACP permits may apply to the Minister for permanent residence on special grounds. As a part of this agreement, the SCCT has agreed to conduct the administrative processing of the applications before submitting these applications to the Minister.
Read complete press release at Scalabrini Centre website.