South Africa: Angolan Former Refugees Face Uncertain Future
Source: GroundUp, 01/10/2019
One of the committee members, Manuel Panzo, told GroundUp last
week that he had been trying to call the office but no one
answered his calls. He said his colleagues had also been trying
In October 2009, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
proposed to end refugee status for Angolans who fled the civil war
which ended in 2002. The South African government announced the
cessation of refugee status in 2013, but most of the former
refugees who wanted to stay were granted an Angolan Cessation
Permit (ACP) in an Angolan passport issued to them upon withdrawal
of their refugee status. These ACPs were valid for only two years.
In October 2015, the Scalabrini Centre submitted an application
for permanent residency on behalf of all ACP holders. After
several legal battles, the Department of Home Affairs eventually
agreed to grant the category of an `Angolan Special Permit`.
Angolan Special Permits were issued in 2018 and expire in 2021.The
conditions of the permit state that it cannot be extended, and its
conditions cannot be changed.
The former refugees had been placed in a precarious legal state
since 2013, Miranda Madikane, Director of The Scalabrini Centre,
said this week, with deep and damaging impacts on the community.
She told GroundUp, `Considering that Angolan former refugees
constitute a relatively small number of people, and considering
that they have a deep level of socio-economic integration in South
Africa, the ability to remain permanently within South Africa
would be an appropriate durable solution.`
Madikane said that it is in the interest of the South African
state to ensure that people living within its borders are
documented. `In our experience, the community of Angolan former
refugees and their families desperately want to seek durable
legality in South Africa.`
In their letter to Home Affairs, the Angolan committee raised the
issue of uncertainty regarding their future when the permits
expire in 2021. They also asked the Department to provide a way
for children and spouses of Angolan former refugees to acquire
documents in South Africa. Some, who were not Angolan, had never
had documents though they were married to Angolan Special Permit
`Similarly, some children of ASP permit holders were too young or
unable to be documented in their parents` refugee status, and
could not access ASP permits,` the letter read.
The committee also asked the department to expand the Angolan
Special Permit programme to people with refugee or asylum seeker
status who had missed the deadlines, to legalise their stay in
South Africa. They explained that the problem is huge in small
cities such as Port Elizabeth.
Panzo said if the visas were not renewed it would harm many
families who had lived in South Africa for two decades and had
adult children born here who could not speak Portuguese. It would
also affect many people running businesses.
He said many people who had gone back to Angola after frustrations
with documentation had returned within two years. Though the
political system had improved and there was less persecution, life
there was `difficult`, he said. `Children born here will not
GroundUp sent a query to Home Affairs on 26 September, and
followed up with another email on 30 September. On Tuesday
GroundUp called spokesperson Siyabulela Qoza who said he was not
aware of the query. He promised to check and respond. Home
Affairs` response will be added when it is received.