Home Affairs minister has published the Refugees Amendment Act, introducing a host of new rules for refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa. If you’re a refugee or asylum seeker, here are some of the new laws which came into effect on January 1st that you should be aware of:
- No refugee or asylum seeker may participate in any political activity or campaign in furtherance of any political party or political interests in South Africa. Doing so will lead to the withdrawal of refugee status
- Any person whose refugee status has been withdrawn shall be dealt with as an illegal foreigner in terms of the provisions of the Immigration Act
- Any person who intends to apply for asylum must declare their intention, while at a port of entry, before entering South Africa and provide their biometrics and other relevant data as required, including fingerprints, photograph, date of birth and age etc.
- An ‘asylum seeker visa’ will determine how long the refugee is allowed to remain in the country, what work they are allowed to do and where/if they may go to school
- The minister may issue an order to immediately detain and remove any refugee or asylum seeker named as a threat to South Africa
- Clamping down on businesses
At the end of 2019 Employment and Labour minister said that his department will clamp down on employers not complying with the country’s labour laws by unlawfully hiring foreign workers. This follows confirmation that the Department of Small Business Development is working on a new law that will restrict foreigners from working in certain sections of the economy.
Small business development minister said that the legislation in line with other countries – such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe – that have regulations specifying the sectors where foreign nationals are not allowed to participate.
On the gazetting of the regulations for the Refugee Act, Chairperson of the committee Bongani Bongo said this would strengthen the entry requirements into the country. He said the regulations must ensure the sovereignty and security of the country and give refugees protection. He believes strongly as the committee that these regulations will certainly deter the tide of corruption and fraud in the system and maintain on a sustainable basis the balance between the three responsibilities.
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