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South Africa Introduces New Asylum Guidelines

The applicants will also be required to explain how they were assisted to gain entry into South Africa.

The South African Home Affairs department on Monday released new guidelines for foreigners seeking asylum in the country.

Asylum seekers are now expected to disclose their personal finances, educational qualifications, specify the number of their dependents living outside of the country, documentation and testimonials from previous employers.

The applicants will also be required to explain how they were assisted to gain entry into South Africa.

Communications manager Daniel Muzenda of the Zimbabwe Migrants Association said the changes pose a threat to those seeking asylum in the country.

He said the new requirements can put the lives of asylum seekers at risk as some maybe unable to retain the documentation required.

“Since the government now requires salary receipts considering the economic situation when most people come to look for asylum here in South Africa they will be unemployed, so we feel South Africa should be obliged to protect refugees considering that they are signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees,” said Muzenda.

South Africa defines a person seeking asylum as a person who has fled his or her country of origin and is seeking recognition and protection as a refugee in the country, and whose application is still under consideration.

Zimbabweans, who are currently regularizing their stay under the Zimbabwean special permit program, are not affected, nor are other Zimbabweans who have regularized their stay in South Africa through other immigration processes.

However, other Zimbabweans have and continue to seek asylum in South Africa.

Under South Africa’s immigration system, an alien who is not a permanent resident in South Africa may be admitted to the country only if he or she is issued a valid temporary residence permit.

South Africa has 13 different temporary permit classes: visitor’s permit; study permit; treaty permit; business permit; crew permit; medical treatment permit; relative’s permit; work permit; retired person’s permit; corporate permit; exchange permit; asylum transit permit; and cross-border and transit permit.

Muzenda said stakeholders will be working to lobby the government on the new guidelines.