Answer to a question from a reader

Has Home Affairs said anything regarding the Angolan Special Permit due to expire at the end of 2021?

The short answer

Unfortunately not. You may want to reach out to Scalabrini.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I am a former Angolan refugee who has been living in South Africa for the better part of the last twenty years. As detailed in a GroundUp article published in October 2019, we obtained the Angolan Special Permit for a period of four (4) years. It is due to expire in December 2021. The time bomb has started ticking and we are once again left at the mercy of the state and the doubtless backlog of service delivery by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), with Covid-19 likely making matters worse. 

Can you confirm whether the DHA has made any statements regarding the issuing of an "Angolan Exemption Permit" like those given to people from Lesotho and Zimbabwe? It is my understanding that they were in the same predicament and received Exemption permits. Being a temporary resident is far better than being an undocumented and undesirable person in the country, 

The long answer

Unfortunately, Home Affairs has remained silent on what it intends to do, in the face of continued queries from the Angola Cessation Committee. This Committee, formed in 2018 with the support of the Scalabrini organisation in Cape Town, has been trying to meet with Home Affairs and the Angolan authorities to discuss a way forward. 

The Home Affairs spokesman, David Hlabane, has said that the department is working on a long-term solution, and that an announcement would be made before the permits expired. Hlabane said people wanting to apply for permanent residence should approach the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs (SCRA) and apply for the certification they would need in order to apply for permanent residence. But given that the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) specifically issued a Cessation of Refugee Status for Angolans in 2013, this is unlikely to be of assistance to most Angolan families who have lived and worked in South Africa for two decades. 

As you know, one of the conditions of the Angola Special Permit, issued after Scalabrini and other progressive organisations had taken Home Affairs to court, is that the holder may not apply for permanent residence when the four years are up. As you say, the time bomb is ticking, and typically, there is no feedback from Home Affairs on what kind of long-term solution the department is working on.

The Scalabrini organisation is likely to have the most up-to-date advice and information about this issue. You can contact them at

Scalabrini says that the Angola Cessation Committee is open to people applying to join. If you would like to join the committee, please write an email to

Wishing you the best,

Answered on March 26, 2021, 10 a.m.

See more questions and answers

Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.