Maseru, Jan. 14 — Following extension of Lesotho Exemption Permit (LEP) for another two years, the LEP holders can do all application processes and payments online starting from February 01.
LEP expired on December 31, 2023 but the South African Minister of Home Affairs, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi extended the permit for another two year thus it will expire on November 29, 2025.
In 2015, the South Africa Cabinet approved the implementation of a Special Dispensation for Lesotho nationals. The objective of this dispensation was to document Lesotho nationals who were in South Africa illegally as a result of the socio-economic crisis in Lesotho. It also allowed Lesotho nationals to sojourn in the Republic of South Africa with relaxed conditions; provided them with work, study or business permits and suspended their deportation.
This is according to the Immigration Services South Africa where it has stated that permit holders can apply through VFS Global platform at www.vfsglobal.com saying that they have to complete the application and pay prescribed service fee and book an appointment at any VFS Global offices in South Africa.
It noted that on appointment day, the applicant shall submit to VFS Global documents including; a duly completed and signed online form for the exemption permit, an original valid passport issued by the government of Lesotho valid for 120 calendar days, a copy of passport, proof of application for a new passport lodge with the relevant Lesotho authorities in case of expired passport, proof of employment (if applicable), proof of business registration with companies and intellectual property commission (CIPC) and South Africa Revenue Services (SARS) (if applicable), proof of registration with the learning institution(if applicable), a certified record of birth (s) of minor child / children born in South Africa, proof of address of the applicant (if applicable) and a certified copy of the exemption permit of which its validity was extended in terms of Minister’s Immigration Directive no.3 of 2023 as well as fingerprints.
Meanwhile earlier the Director for Migrant Association of Lesotho Mr. Lerato Nkhetše had said that they appreciate the extension though he said that looking at over 90 000 Basotho who are exemption holders and only 54 653 being granted extension that does not make much difference. He said that about 35 667 will not be left out saying that this is not a smart partnership and it is not going to benefit Basotho as expected.
“We do not understand the criterion used for extension because it is going to leave out the most vulnerable who are not able to access the system for application. Also from 2015 when the exemption permit started there have been new people who wanted to apply but could not, so this is not going to have much impact on reducing Basotho working or staying illegal in South Africa instead the number is going to immensely increase,” he stressed.
He indicated that with this new extension, it means that about 36 000 more Basotho will be unemployed as they will not have permits. Again, he mentioned that the fact that after extended two years the exemption permits will not be renewed means that they will be back to square one with more illegal Basotho and high unemployment rate.
Furthermore, Mr. Nkhetše highlighted that when the exemption was first introduced in 2015 it cost about M970 and in 2019 it increased to M1, 090 saying that now it has gone further up to M1,400 which he said is more expensive therefore emphasising that their excitement for extension is short lived.
He added that there are a huge number of Basotho who applied for the permit in 2015 but to date have not been issued with such permit.
An estimated 90 314 Lesotho nationals are on the permit but exemptions were granted to approximately 54 653 Basotho
The Lesotho Exemption Permit has replaced the Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) which expired on December 31, 2019.