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The Law Around Immigration Related Offences in South Africa and Examples


- Featured article by LAWYERS-ONLINE.CO.ZA - June 2019

The South African law around immigration stems from the South African Immigration Act 13 of 2002, and this act allows for officials to have a wide range of powers when it comes to applying the stipulations laid out within the act. This includes the power to arrest, detain and deport illegal immigrants; however, the act also provides certain rights to immigrants under section 34 and as an immigrant, it is vital to know these rights and how they may be infringed. In turn, however, anyone visiting the country must be able to produce adequate documentation proving their right to be here when questioned “on the spot”.

The law regarding immigration in South Africa, specifically the immigration act does also create offences that persons entering the country or who are already in the country, should be aware of. Let’s look at a few below:

  • Not having a valid visa or permit
  • Having an expired visa or permit, which can result in a fine
  • Having a forged visa or permit
  • Going against the reasons that a permit of visa was granted, such as working while here on a tourist visa
  • Entering the country through any other means but a valid port of entry as determined by the Minister
  • It is also considered an immigration offence for a South African citizen to employ or assist an illegal immigrant unless it is for humanitarian reasons

These are just a few of the most commonly occurring immigration-related offences in South Africa, but there are many others. It is best to discuss any concerns with an immigration lawyer.

In order to avoid finding yourself in contravention of the act and guilty, always make sure you are ready for inspection and are here legally. Keep the following in mind while in South Africa:

  • Always have your documentation on you at all time, including visas and permits
  • Have the contact details of your family or next of kin on hand
  • Stay calm, cooperate and do not be combative as some combative actions may be seen as an immigration offence

And what of those persons wishing to make South Africa a permanent residence? The act also makes provision for that. Under section 26 and section 27, applications for permanent residency may be made. However, there are restrictions and in some cases, a person may be considered a “prohibited person” if the following applies:

  • They are infected with a disease that can spread easily. Examples include yellow fever and cholera
  • There are arrest warrants out in the person’s name for serious crimes in any country that South Africa conducts diplomatic relations with
  • The person is a member of a terrorist group or a group that practices racial hatred
  • The person has been previously deported without rehabilitation by the Department

If you have any questions regarding the law regarding immigration-related offences, please reach out to us and we can refer your query to a qualified immigration lawyer who may be able to assist.

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