SA residency fight: family given a two-week reprieve

2013-08-05 00:00

A FAMILY from Strand in the Western Cape have been given a two- week reprieve by the Cape Town high court to try and ensure that their dad will not be deported after 17 years in South Africa.

A Dutch national, Thijs van Hillegondsberg, has been involved in a protracted battle with South African authorities to secure permanent residency.

He now has two weeks to hand in a new application, which must be reviewed by Home Affairs.

Popular Weekend Witness columnist Willian Saunderson-Meyer on Saturday wrote about Van Hillegonds­berg’s battle to remain in South Africa, saying the family were “victims of a Kafka-esque nightmare of bureaucratic nit-picking and arrogant officialdom”.

An immigration lawyer, Craig Smith, has indicated that he would be willing to assist the family in their fight, Van Hillegondsberg said yesterday.

“I am elated. Me and my family are still trying to work through everything we feel.

“But more than ever before, I have faith in the great Constitution of this country, that the right thing will happen.”

Van Hillegondsberg and his wife, Pamela Poelman, adopted Thembisa Masisa and Johan Oktober in 2001.

“Thembi turns 19 tomorrow [today], and I am so happy that we’re all together to celebrate. Johan is just happy that his dad isn’t locked up.”

The Van Hillegondsbergs also have a biological son, Ludo, who is studying medicine at the Stellenbosch University.

Ludo joined the rest of the family yesterday while they talked through the range of emotions they are experiencing.

Had the judge not granted this motion, Van Hillegondsberg would, in all likelihood, be sent off to a detention centre and deported back to his native Netherlands.

“But this time the judge instructed that the case be reviewed, taking in consideration the findings of the public protector, who described in a report in 2012 that our family have been victims of Home Affairs maladministration.”

He is meeting Smith today to draft the new application.

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