Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has acceded to a request by the Lesotho authorities to extend the closing date of applications for Lesotho Special Permits to allow more time for Basotho nationals to apply for permits. The last day for applications was 30 June 2016. The date has now been extended by three months to 30 September 2016.

Applicants will still be required to provide supporting documents while applying.

The request for an extension was among the recommendations made at the Consultation of Directors-General of Home Affairs held in Maseru on 01 June 2016 to assess progress on the implementation of the LSP. The South African and Basotho delegations were led by Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni and Home Affairs Principal Secretary Habokhethoe Sekonyela, respectively.

By Monday, 27 June 2016, close to 40 000 applications had been received.

“The extension to the end of September will assist in mitigating challenges making it difficult for people to seize the opportunity to regularise their stay in South Africa, but we urge people to apply without any further delay,” Minister Gigaba said.

Not all Lesotho citizens have Lesotho identity documents. Some applicants are battling to provide the required documents while others fear arrest relating to the amnesty process. Access and connectivity for applicants have also posed a challenge since registration is online.

Joint public outreach programmes are scaled-up to ensure applicants are informed and assisted to apply.All necessary steps are being taken to attend to these challenges to ensure people are assisted to apply. The Lesotho Government has deployed staff at various centres for birth registration and ID enrolment. The Lesotho National Identity and Civil Registry currently operates seven (7) days a week to facilitate the LSP process for its nationals. VFS will accept walk-in applications at its centres.

Lesotho authorities will continue engaging communities in Lesotho and in various parts of South Africa, with the aid of the Lesotho High Commission and Consulates in South Africa, to ensure as many Basotho as possible have necessary documents, including Lesotho ID cards.  Additional application desks are being provided in Lesotho, at the borders and other strategic places. A mobile centre at Maseru Mall is already working.

The Lesotho Special Permit is issued under the special dispensation for Lesotho nationals who work, study or do business in South Africa and had been in the country in such capacity before 30 September 2015. Special permits are issued only to Lesotho citizens registered in the National Population Register of Lesotho. The LSP programme was launched on 1 February 2016.

South Africa granted an amnesty to Basotho in possession of fraudulently acquired documentation, so that they can surrender such documents, without the fear of arrest or deportation. Applicants receive amnesty letters as proof. For smooth facilitation, a moratorium on deportations was granted until 31 December 2016 on condition Basotho nationals surrender all fraudulently acquired documents, including fraudulent permits, South African passports and IDs.

Lesotho Special permits are valid until 31 December 2019. The LSP will strengthen close kinship ties South Africa and Lesotho share while allowing for Lesotho nationals to live in South Africa legally. Those with appropriate documents will contribute to the two countries’ economic development and growth, including through taxes in South Africa and remittances back home.

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