Zimbabweans with expired permits or visas received good news during South African lockdown. The South government announced the lifeline for foreigners with expired permits or visas.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has assured foreign nationals whose visas and permits will expire during the lockdown that they would not be penalised. The lifeline for foreigners was met with jubilation from mostly Zimbabweans who form the majority of foreign nationals in South Africa.

Of the 75 land, sea and airports around the country, 35 were shut down last week.

Motsoaledi said “No people would be allowed in or out of the country from midnight on Thursday but exceptions will be made for medical reasons. We are aware of many nationals in neighbouring countries who make use of our health services, they will make special arrangements with home affairs. The remaining 18 border posts will allow goods and essential services but will be totally closed to people.”

Motsoaledi has assured foreign nationals who were afraid they would be penalized and declared undesirable if their visas expired during the lockdown that they can relax

“We don’t expect people to apply for extension during the lockdown, we will understand, and we will deal with the matter after 21 days.”

Most borders in South Africa are closed for ordinary citizens since the commencement of the lockdown on 27 March 2020. The lockdown is expected to be lifted on the 16th of March. Most visitors in South Africa were worried as to what would happen to their passports they overstay. The news was a welcome relief.

The South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) also took the opportunity to extend the lifeline to foreign Sotho people and remind them to apply for the Lesotho Special Permit. The deadline to apply for renewal of the Lesotho Special Permit was set for the end of March but it has now been extended to the end of June.

The Zimbabwean government also announced a 21-day lockdown to commence on Monday 30 March 2020.

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