Answer to a question from a reader

Can a person go to prison for jumping the border?

The short answer

You can be sentenced to up to 12 months in prison for entering the country illegally.

The whole question

The girlfriend of a buddy of mine from Zimbabwe was arrested in January in Limpopo. She has been in custody since.

We have learnt from a police officer that she was found guilty of being a border jumper and sentenced to six months.

Is this normal?


The long answer

Thank you for your email asking whether it is normal for a person to be sentenced to six months prison after being found guilty of border jumping.

Unfortunately, it is normal.

Under the Immigration Act, a person who is found to be illegally in South Africa - an undocumented immigrant - can be detained for up to 30 days at the Lindela Detention Centre, and this detention can be extended up to 90 days by a court. A person can be fined, or prosecuted. If the court found your friend’s girlfriend guilty, she could be sentenced to up to 12 months in prison. She could also be deported before the sentence is up.

Your friend could contact the following organisations for advice:

Answered on April 5, 2019, 10:40 a.m.

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