South Africa hosted about 273,488 refugees and asylum seekers, of whom 84% come from sub-Saharan Africa, in 2018 – the latest period for which figures are available. They come mostly from Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The main reasons for fleeing to South Africa are to escape poverty, political violence and war.
The policy and law applying to refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa are largely progressive. It’s mostly contained in the Refugee Act of 1998. Associated rights to well-being, equality before the law, human dignity, and non-discrimination are also enshrined in South Africa’s bill of rights.
But in practice, refugees in South Africa also face many challenges in accessing their rights to social protections such as legal documents, social grants and security of stay.
Refugees can now renew asylum permits and refugee statuses online by the following steps as a free service;
Wait for an email from the Department of Home Affairs and follow the given instructions which includes:
- completing a short form, signing it either digitally or printing, signing and scanning it
- Scanning your previous / expired permit
- Providing your telephone number, email address and residential address
Reply to the Deparment of Home Affairs email by submitting the information requested documents in step 2
- After submitting, wait for another email from the Department of Home Affairs that comes with either a permit extension or referral letter requesting further information and / or that you visit the RRO where your file is.