More Lesotho Nationals encouraged to apply for special permit


Kenya - Following last years Kenya Westgate Shopping Mall attack the South African passport was thrust into the spotlight. Since then, Home Affairs has tightened security around immigration laws and passports.

PRETORIA – South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs was stepping up efforts to legalise the stay of Lesotho nationals in the country.

Lesotho is a landlocked kingdom located within South Africa, with many Lesotho nationals living and working in South Africa.

South African Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba visited the Lesotho Special Permit Facilitation and Application Centre in Midrand on Tuesday, and handed out permits to all applicants and sent a message of encouragement to Lesotho nationals in South Africa to “make use of the service centres to apply for the Lesotho Special Permit”.

The Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) is available to Lesotho nationals, also known as Basotho, who have been working, studying or running businesses in South Africa before September 30, 2015 and is issued to Lesotho citizens who are currently registered in Lesotho’s national population register.

The department noted that according to Lesotho’s national population register, there are between 400,000 and 500,000 Lesotho nationals living and working in South Africa and many of them were “living in South Africa illegally and without proper documentation”.

The application centre has received up to 5,694 successful applications for the LSP and Gigaba said more needed to be done to ensure more Lesotho nationals made use of these application centres in order to stay in South Africa legally.

Gigaba said the application period for the LSP which opened this year in February was valid until December 31, 2019, and Lesotho nationals who qualified for the permit during this period would not be deported.

There are LSP application centres in strategic places across the country where there are high numbers of Lesotho nationals.

Concerning those who have fraudulently acquired documentation, the South African Department of Home Affairs has granted them amnesty as they need to “regularise their stay”.

“We are not happy with the uptake thus far and wish to urgently appeal to those Lesotho nationals who have not visited these centres to do so and use this opportunity to regularise their stay in the country. The centres are open on weekends to assist applicants to complete the online application process,” Gigaba said.

He said: “We want to see the Basotho becoming a part of South African society without fear of deportation and to formalise their stay in South Africa, mindful of the contribution that they are making to the economy here and in their country.”

Gigaba called on employers to assist with this process and provide their employees with letters confirming their employment as these letters were “one of the key requirements of the application process”.

Gigaba said that the department had noted that “most employers of Lesotho nationals have been reluctant to issue employment letters to allow them to finalise the application process” and he emphasised that once the application period closed, the department would have to apply the law in accordance with the Immigration Act. 

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