Foreigners in SA could be asked to prove their immigration status to police.
Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi this week gave the SAPS the green light to spot check foreigners to ascertain whether they were legally in the country.
He was briefing the home affairs portfolio committee on the backlog in permit appeals for asylum seekers and refugees.
He said the checks would be lawful.
“Police have the right to stop and ask about documentation. It doesn’t have to be production or physical documentation like during apartheid days, meaning you are not forced to carry documents in your pockets everywhere you go.”
Documents will be checked against the national population register.
“It’s something that can be done on the spot and it will be a pity if somebody has to be arrested because we have to do a manual check.”
The minister said four refugee centres had been reopened after a two-year closure due to Covid-19. They are in Durban, Pretoria, Gqeberha and Musina. The Cape Town refugee office will be reopened by the end of September.
Previously, Motsoaledi said Zimbabweans did not bother to apply for visas after the department extended the Zimbabwean exemption permits (ZEP) deadline until June 30 2023.
Of 178,000 holders, only 4,000 had applied for visas to legalise their stay in SA.
Motsoaledi told the Sunday Times: “I wouldn’t say they’re showing us the middle finger. I’d say they have been convinced by these court cases that they shouldn’t bother [applying] because they believe this matter is going to be thrown out by the courts.”