SOUTH AFRICA: NEW IMMIGRATION LAWS TEARS FAMILIES APART.
Cape Town – A Cape Town family has been torn apart by home affairs’ new immigration regulations that came into effect on 26 May.
IOL reports that Brent Johnson, 41, his wife Louise Egedal Johnson and their 2-year-old son recently went on a trip to Namibia and when they returned were shocked to find that Danish-born Louise would not be allowed back into the country.
She was apparently called an ‘undesirable person’ by home affairs and detained for six hours in a room at Cape Town International Airport on their return from Namibia on Sunday.
They were eventually informed that she would be deported back to Denmark, forcing Brent to buy both her and their son, Samuel, one way tickets to Copenhagen.
“I am married to a Brazilian. According to the new rules, we have to go to Brazil every two years to apply for the renewal of her permit. If we don’t, my wife will be deported and our family will be split up. In the past the renewal could be done here. Do you think that is constitutional?” commented Emile Myburgh.
Sten Klasson said that he has been married to a South African woman for seven years and that they recently returned to Johannesburg after living and working overseas. He said that during their time overseas, his wife never had a problem getting work permits and citizenship.
“We have been here since June last year and still my permanent visa is still not in place. I have lived in Europe my entire life and seen how Russia was ruling the eastern block. This is where you South Africans are aiming,” he warned.
A social media commentator, Kosmonooit, also aired his frustration, saying: “Tell me about it! Already waiting 5 months for a visa for my wife and daughter, with no information forthcoming! And el-presidente signed this act into law his good self this last Friday, the consequences were put forward in the brief period give for public comment. 3rd World Abyss here we come.”
In a recent interview with News24 Live, immigration law expert Gary Eisenberg explained that the new regulations are, in essence, xenophobic.
“There is no longer any flexibility in the system. The South African government is out to punish foreigners and perhaps this is a sign of the kind of xenophobia that may be lurking somewhere in the wings,” he said.
He also explained the damaging effects these kinds of laws could have on foreign investment in South Africa.
“If, for example, a business visitor comes to South Africa and – for a particular reason – is one day late in applying for an extension, the permit expires a day ago, and that person leaves the country to go back home – and perhaps going back home to organize an investment into the country – that person is excluded for a year. They cannot come back to South Africa. They are declared undesirable people,” he said.
In a similar development, the Nigerian community in South Africa has condemned the new immigration regulations claiming they are the major target of the new laws. Mr. Stanley Ebele, a Nigerian living in South Africa spoke to Africa Thisday in Pretoria : “I am married to a South African lady and I love her so much but this law is a big threat to our marriage because I may soon be asked to back home leaving my beloved wife and child here.” He added that “these new immigration laws are xenophobic and targeted at Nigerians the most because of our increasing population in South Africa.”
While the country’s law administratively allows a person to go to court to vindicate their rights, the process is flawed and appeals are often delayed to frustrate the applicant.