Call for strengthening of SA’s immigration laws

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Some Parliamentarians want South Africa’s immigration laws to be strengthened and the country’s sovereignty to be respected. They say this will close loopholes for those seeking to take advantage of the country.

Members of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs reacted to the update from Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on the current status of a group of Afghan nationals who wanted to enter the country as asylum seekers.

The Pretoria High Court ruled in favour of the group which was represented by an American NGO. However, the Department is in the process of seeking legal advice to appeal the court order.

Motsoaledi says the group went on various visiting visas to other countries including Zimbabwe, before trying to enter South Africa. It is believed that they’re now in Zambia.

“I’m emphasising that because in the judgment the judge is saying something to the effect that they were expelled from Zimbabwe, or they were sent away from Zimbabwe. They were not. Their period of stay there was just over in the same way as many countries in the world do. You can go to the US. If you were given permission to stay there for five days, on the fifth day they will come to the hotel wherever you are and say your time is over. So, that’s what Zimbabwe did, and we are made to understand, somebody in Zambia in the American Embassy, at least that’s what we have heard, arranged for them to go to Zambia, also on a visitor’s visa. And up to so far, we believe that’s where they are,” Motsoaledi elaborates.

“I completely share the outrage from South Africans in general about this Afghan matter. You know chairperson, I think it really amounts to a blatant abuse of South Africa, of South Africans, of the Minister of Home Affairs and the entire department and our autonomy as a state. The fact of the matters is that we’ve got laws and as soon as we want to implement those laws, then you get the NGOs that run to the courts to compel us to do something else and I’m really quite angry by the situation that we find ourselves in. And you know for an American NGO to tell us about our international obligations, yet they themselves have got obligations. It wasn’t South Africa that engaged in a war in Afghanistan,” IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe explains.

“I mean imagine going to other neighbouring African countries and say no South Africa is actually the easiest to get access to in this way. And that South Africa would be the easiest way to get this status. So, let’s go to South Africa. I mean there was not real intention. If there was, they would have come straight to South Africa and not via other countries. So, clearly there is something that we have to do as a country because we have to be able to protect the interest of our citizens. And I think across the board, all South Africans are going to be concerned about this and day in and day out they raise concerns, and we must be able to act,” says ANC MP Brandon Pillay.

VIDEO: Court’s decision to grant asylum permits to 22 Afghan nationals: Dr Aaron Motsoaledi: