HOME Affairs Principal Secretary Borenahabokhethe Sekonyela has pleaded with Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) applicants to submit all the remaining documents ahead of the looming March 31 deadline.
Thousands of Basotho submitted their applications for the special dispensation on 31 December 2016, aimed at legalising their stay in South Africa.
The two governments agreed that Basotho with at least a birth certificate or identity card could fill the LSP application forms and pay the M970 fee while sorting out remaining documents which include the Lesotho passport, letter of employment and police clearance.
These should be submitted on or before the end of March hence Advocate Sekonyela’s plea to the applicants.
“It is not a secret that illegal Basotho migrants in South Africa suffered inhumane treatment ranging from unpaid work, human trafficking and many other painful stories that you have heard of,” Advocate Sekonyela said, adding it was against this background that they had negotiated more favourable terms for the LSP application.
“Paying application fee and registering alone doesn’t guarantee one that they will get a permit. They now need to collect all needed documents and submit them to relevant offices before the closing date.
“We are therefore pleading with all applicants with outstanding documents to urgently submit the remaining documents to avoid being disqualified immediately after March 31.”
He said all those who failed to submit their applications for the LSP would be deported immediately after March 31.
“Illegal migrants’ miseries will soon start and although we understand their pain, we did everything in our power to address their problems like issues of human trafficking and employers robbing them of their hard earned salaries,” he said.
He said government was worried by the recent human trafficking reports of Basotho and Swazis in South Africa’s Kwazulu-Natal province and they would be sending a delegation this week to the neighbouring country to thoroughly investigate the matter.
“Yes we are aware that 23 Basotho were trafficked in KZN. Some of these people are LSP applicants while others have not applied for the permit. Reports from KZN indicate that these people were subjected to inhumane treatment,” he said, adding that this was a typical example of ill-treatment illegal migrants were subjected to.
The 23 were part of a group of 72 Swaziland and Lesotho nationals trafficked for labour exploitation allegedly at a factory in Newcastle.
Preliminary investigations showed that the survivors were brought into South Africa illegally.
Advocate Sekonyela the survivors were kept in a safe house in South Africa because they were going to be witnesses in the case against the suspects.
“They are not kept there as prisoners but witnesses. The minister has instructed that we dispatch a delegation to South Africa to investigate circumstances surrounding this case and we will be able to give a detailed report very soon,” he said.