How to get a Lesotho Special Permit

| Tariro Washinyira
From left to right: Mayihlome Tshwete (Home Affairs spokesperson), Malusi Gigaba (Minister of Home Affairs) and Jackie McKay (Home Affairs Deputy Director-General). Media briefing in Home Affairs Boardroom, Parliament, Cape Town, 25 November. Photo by Tariro Washinyira.

The Department of Home Affairs has introduced a Lesotho Special Permit. This will allow people from Lesotho currently staying in South Africa but who are undocumented or have incorrect or expired documents, to stay lawfully in the country.

Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba explained the new permit system, approved by Cabinet in October, at a press conference on Wednesday.

The minister said the purpose of the permits “is to regularise the stay of Lesotho nationals currently residing illegally in South Africa, some with fraudulently obtained SA documents, and others abusing the visa waiver between our two countries … The special dispensation is for Lesotho nationals who are working; studying or running businesses in SA without appropriate documentation, and have been in the country … before 30 September 2015.”

Gigaba said there would be a moratorium on deportations of Lesotho citizens until 31 December 2016. But the moratorium will exclude people with “negative police clearance” or who have been released from prison after serving their sentences. There is an amnesty for Lesotho nationals who voluntarily hand in fraudulent permits, SA passports or IDs.

The programme to issue permits will start on 1 February 2016. Permits will be valid for four years, from 1 May 2016 to 30 April 2020.

To apply for the permit you need to

  • have a valid passport or travel document,
  • be registered on the Lesotho National Population Register system,
  • have police clearance from Lesotho and South Africa,
  • provide proof of
    • an affidavit from your employer, if you need to be issued with a work permit
    • business registration with SARS and CIPRO, if you need a business permit
    • registration from an educational institution, if you need a study permit.

You may not have a criminal record and you must be prepared to hand in any illegal South African permit or documents.

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Write a letter in response to this article


Dear Editor

I have an employee who has been working for us for more than 13 years. I have encountered problems getting her a work permit online. Is there any other way she can get her work permit processed as I have reached a dead end trying to apply through vfsvisaonline?

I would appreciate your help as time is running out and will have no options but to send her back to poverty.

GroundUp Editor's Response

GroundUp has received many requests for assistance with getting a Lesotho Special Permit.

Unfortunately, since we are a news agency, we are not in a position to answer these queries.

Please rather contact LSP Call Centre +27 87 230 0411 or write to

Dear Editor

I have been trying to find an official document (eg. Gazette or Notice) that puts a moratorium on the deportations of the Basotho nationals. Kindly assist if you have information in this regard.

Dear Editor

I applied for a permit 19 September. Until today I didn't receive it. So I want to know why, because other people got it after 6 weeks. December is now around the corner. I want to go home with it.

Dear Editor

I'm a Swazi living in South Africa, but struggling with a permit and have been living in SA since 13 January 2013 and just got a decent job - simply because I'm still a student and I pay my fees. The company I'm working for is renowned and fears issuing a letter of employment because i'm a foreigner, as it will have to face and explain to the law as to why I was hired and not an SA citizen. Swaziland is a landlocked country like Lesotho and is clinging on it's people whereas it cannot meet all their needs (especially the youth).

I really feel that Swaziland is not making any effort in trying to help its citizens living in SA, to have legal documents. It's really painful to walk around in another country with inappropriate documents, especially when you are a student. I would have a study permit, but UNISA does not issue acceptance letters for study permits because it doesn't offer full time courses, therefore you can study through it in your own country. The only reason I came to SA is to find greener pastures. If I had remained in Swaziland I would still be selling take away foods in the taxi rank and selling handbags and wouldn't be doing my second year in psychology and working at the same time. I'm really grateful for the choice I made, but I still face the challenge of valid documents. I'm crying for help

Dear Editor

I've been applying for my Lesotho Special Permit special permit from last year July. I was told that it would take 8 weeks but it still hasn't arrived. I am losing my job because of it. Please can someone assist?

Dear Editor

When is the government going to reopen the application process for Lesotho nationals to apply for a work permit? We are so desperate for them. My employer refuses to make them for me and any of my colleagues. Please help us, we are working without them.

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