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THE PRESIDENTIAL AND MINISTERIAL ADDRESS REGARDING THE CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK IN SOUTH AFRICA AND ITS EFFECTS ON THE COUNTRY’S IMMIGRATION

March 17, 2020

Admin

 

  1. We hope you are well and refer to the above referenced.

 

  1. At the outset, please note that we are addressing you in a newsletter to ensure that you have access to the information detailed herein and in the interest of efficiency and urgency. We must, furthermore, echo the advice given by the Government in the circumstance. Do not panic! We cannot stress this enough. There simply is no need to panic and we must, in good conscience, advise you to allow cooler heads to prevail in the circumstance to ensure that we, in the spirit of good faith and cooperation, whether this current storm well and without any further significant loss.

 

  1. As mentioned by the President in his speech on Sunday, 15 March 2020 and by the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi (“the Minister”) this morning, 16 March 2020, we, for your ease of reference. remind you of the following:

 

  • Foreigners in the country on long term valid visas will be able to continue living in the country on such visas and will be allowed to renew such visas while in the country. However, if a foreigner, who happens to be the holder of a valid long term South African visa, departs the country to travel to one of the countries mentioned herein below, such foreigner’s re-entry into the country may be affected;

 

  • We encourage foreigners in the country on an entry/short term visa and unable to return home prior to the expiry thereof for whatever reason to renew their entry/short term visa, provided that doing so is possible. In this regard, we encourage you to contact our office on info@desaudelaw.com for any assistance you may need;

 

  • The Minister confirmed that Home Affairs is making use of an offshore passenger control system to pre-emptively screen air passengers in on-going efforts to limit the entry of high-risk individuals into the country;

 

  • According to the President, the following 8 countries have been identified as “high risk” and are accordingly prohibited:

 

  • China;
  • Germany;
  • Italy;
  • Iran;
  • South Korea;
  • Spain;
  • The United Kingdom; and
  • The United States of America.

 

  • In addition to referencing the above-mentioned countries, the Minister referenced France as being one of the “8 prohibited countries”; we are not certain if this was done in error or whether this increased the list to in fact 9. It, therefore, is not clear, at this time, whether or not France is included in the list of prohibited countries and we will wait for further developments and/or updates from the Government in this regard;

 

  • We understand from the Ministerial address that the South African visas issued between January and February 2020 to residents and/or citizens of China and Iran (only 2 of the countries identified as prohibited where the number of infected cases increased exponentially in a short space of time) will be revoked (whether this is lawful is a completely different question) and we assume, as we must as nothing further was said in this respect, that no new visas will be issued to foreigners from these countries until further notice;

 

  • We, furthermore, understand from the Ministerial address that foreigners who are from countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, shall be allowed entry into the country by prior application. Furthermore, health-certificate-based visas for international visitors from “medium risk” areas such as Portugal, Hong-Kong and Singapore will now be required. Accordingly, these countries, until further notice, are, therefore, no longer exempt from acquiring visas prior to entry into the country. Please contact us for further information in this regard;

 

  • The Minister advised that 35 of the country’s 72 land ports will be closed, the purpose of which is to limit the movement of people and not goods as the ports that have been closed do not experience much commercial activity;

 

  • The Minister, furthermore, advised that 2 of the country’s 8 seaports will be closed, namely: Saldhana Bay and Mossel Bay. Passengers at Saldhana Bay and Mossel Bay will not be allowed to disembark and there will be no crew changes allowed for ships who often exchange staff compliments from time to time;

 

  • 12 border posts between Botswana and South Africa will be closed. 5 border posts between Lesotho and South Africa will be operational; 4 will be closed. One border post between Mozambique and South Africa will be operational; 2 will be closed. 2 border posts between Namibia and South Africa will be operational; 3 will be closed. Because there is only one border post (Beit Bridge) between South Africa and Zimbabwe, it will have to remain open however an additional 20 officials shall be deployed to the Beit Bridge border;

 

  • The Minister assured all who listened to his address that the Department of Trade and Industry will not be negatively affected by measures implemented by Home Affairs as they were cognisant not to impact commercial activities.

 

  1. We hope the above is received meaningfully and should you need further guidance or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
De Saude-Darbandi Attorneys | Cape Town, South Africa

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