900+ immigrants take Home Affairs to court

2014-07-04 09:16

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Cape Town - Almost 1 000 immigrants have filed an urgent application in the Western Cape High Court to force the home affairs department to do its job and process their permit applications.

Meanwhile, another set of applicants, who were granted permits, are seeking payment of repatriation deposits, which cost about as much as a flight back to their home countries, reported The Times.

Applicants say they have become increasingly frustrated with the service rendered by the department, particularly with regards to the new immigration laws.

In terms of the law, a foreigner may not apply for new visa documents from South Africa but needs to do so from his or her home country.

‘Undesirable persons’

And foreigners who did not leave South Africa before the new regulations came into force risk being declared undesirable persons, for between one and five years, and being banned from the country.

With the department failing to process permit applications, immigrants are unable to access medical or banking services and could be arrested or deported.

In an e-mail to News24, a South African man, Jean du Toit, told how his Ukrainian wife, Irina Tokar, had applied for a permanent residence permit more than 60 days before the expiry of her temporary visa.

All the couple have received from the department is a letter acknowledging receipt of the application.

Du Toit said his wife had gone home with the couple’s 9-month-old baby to attend to an urgent family matter “but not before she was declared an undesirable person and banned from South Africa for 5 years”.

“She launched an appeal with Home Affairs but to date [received] no acknowledgement of [receipt] of the appeal,” said Du Toit.

‘Unconstitutional legislation’

On Tuesday the department said it was studying a ruling given by the Western Cape High Court in favour of two people separated from their spouses because of immigration laws.

According to the SABC, Brent Johnson and Cherene Delorie took the department to court to challenge what they called "unconstitutional legislation" governing visa applications.

Their foreign partners were branded undesirable and barred entry into South Africa.

Home Affairs said this was after they failed to follow due process when renewing their visas earlier in 2014.

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