‘Undesirable immigrant’ can return

2014-06-20 00:00

CAPE TOWN — After being declared an undesirable person and being ­separated for three weeks from his home, Richard Berger is finally ­returning from the U.S. to his partner in Cape Town.

Home Affairs declared Berger an “undesirable person” on May 26 when he was on his way to the U.S.

Home Affairs said in a statement that Berger could not return to South Africa for five years, in terms of the amended immigration regulations that came into effect on ­­May 26. Berger immigrated to South Africa in 1999 and has been living with his partner Ettienne Koekemoer.

He has always had a legal residence permit, which he kept valid. As he did every two years, Berger applied to have his temporary residence permit renewed on February 25 — almost 40 days before the permit was to expire.

Home Affairs said it processes all applications within 30 days. But about three months later on May 26, when Berger left for the U.S., he was stopped by Home Affairs officials at O.R. Tambo Airport. They ­declared him an “undesirable person” and banned him from South ­Africa for five years.

Eisenberg, De Saude and Koekemoer, a legal firm specialising in immigration, then made an urgent application in the Western Cape High Court against Home Affairs to cancel the declaration of an undesirable person and order the processing of his residence permit.

On Wednesday, Home Affairs changed Berger’s status, but his application for a residence permit is still in process. The department did not react to queries on the matter.

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