344 547 foreign nationals overstay visitor visas in 2016 – Mike Waters
03 December 2017 – Politics Web
Zimbabweans are main culprits, followed by Mozambicans and Malawians
Minister Dlodlo must immediately resolve dire inefficiencies at Home Affairs
In a reply to a DA Parliamentary question, Home Affairs Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, revealed that at least 344 547 foreign nationals failed to leave South Africa before or on the date their visas were set to expire.
The reply also revealed that more than 15 million people entered the country during 2016. Thousands of them are seeking to find refuge in our country. However, without proper checks and controls, the government will not have an accurate picture of how many foreign nationals stay within our borders illegally.
If this is the case, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will not be able to identify undocumented immigrants, and will ultimately fail to process those individuals who are eligible for a permit.
While the DHA have an Inspectorate Unit tasked with tracing persons who remain in the country illegally, the DA is concerned that the Unit might be under-resourced.
For years the DA has consistently supported greater investment in immigration services and this Parliamentary reply is exactly what the DA has been warning for a long time.
Given the scale and potential ramp in numbers, this reply is an indictment of the DHA’s deeply rooted inefficiencies to carry out its mandate which is to ensure that immigration officers at the border post execute their directive efficiently.
The DA is seriously concerned that if this is what happens in a single year, it must mean that over time, millions of people have entered the country illegally.
The DA will submit more questions to ascertain the staffing and budget of this unit as an under-resourced unit will not be able to trace 340 000 people each year.
Minister Dlodlo must show political will and re-assure the public that she will immediately resolve this unacceptable state of affairs.
Text of reply:
QUESTION FOR WRITTEN REPLY
QUESTION NO. 3517
DATE OF PUBLICATION: FRIDAY, 3 NOVEMBER 2017
INTERNAL QUESTION PAPER 41 OF 2017
3517. Mr M Waters (DA) to ask the Minister of Home Affairs:
(1) What number of foreign nationals in 2016 (a) entered South Africa on (i) visitor visas and/or (ii) holiday visas, (b) departed on or before the date on which their visas expired and (c) of each nationality (i) did not depart and (ii) applied for asylum;
(2) what (a) plans does her department have in place to find the foreign nationals who did not leave the country and (b) what steps have been taken against the specified persons;
(3) what (a) procedures and/or (b) programmes does her department have in place to ensure that visitors depart when their visas expire and (c) is the success rate of the specified procedures and/or programmes in each case? NW3944E
(1)(a)(i-ii) 15,256,170 (total recorded movements for traveller arrivals in 2016 on visitors and /or holiday visas.
(1)(b) 14,988,933 (total recorded movements for traveller departures in 2016 on visitors visas.
(1)(c)(i) The top five nationalities who’s movements indicate they have not yet departed the RSA are:
1. Zimbabwe: 210,067
2. Mozambique: 47,909
3. Malawi: 44,818
4. Lesotho: 36,244
5. Nigeria: 5,509
(1)(c)(ii) The total number of asylum applications for 2016 was: 35,377
The top five nationalities that applied for asylum during 2016 are:
1. Zimbabwe: 7,964
2. DRC: 5,293
3. Ethiopia: 4,754
4. Nigeria: 3,276
5. Bangladesh: 2 834
(2)(a) The Inspectorate Unit of the department is tasked with tracing persons who remain the country illegally. They conduct regular inspections of places of employment and other institutions. They also undertake tracing projects to locate persons who have overstayed in the country.
(2)(b) Such persons are either charged criminally or deported from South Africa.
(3)(a-b) The department does not allow such persons to apply for change of status in the country. Travellers who overstay the number of allocated days are declared undesirable for a period of 12 months or up to a maximum of a 5 year prohibition depending on the number of days overstayed in terms of s30(1)(h) of the Immigration Act. The determination of the sanction is derived from the Enhanced Movement Control System (EMCS).
In terms of the prohibition, a traveller cannot under any circumstances re-enter the country unless an appeal for upliftment of the sanction is considered and accepted by the department.
(3)(c) For the period 1 April 2016 – 31 March 2017 a total of 39,894 persons were declared undesirable. Due to the department only collating overstay data from 1 April 2016, it is not possible to provide a year-on-year trend analysis. For the period in question the most common reasons cited for overstaying are based on medical grounds or applicants awaiting temporary residence visa extensions.