The petition for South Africans abroad has been submitted to Parliament, with the aim of resolving the passport renewal crisis. Photo supplied.

SAPeople has collaborated with the Democratic Alliance (DA) to petition South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister to resolve the passport renewal application crisis that is currently brewing abroad.

SAPeople is inundated daily with cries for help from South Africans abroad who are unable to contact their own Embassies, and whose passports are expiring – putting their jobs, their health care and their ability to remain overseas with their families in jeopardy.

SAPeople Editor Jenni Baxter said: “We have tried contacting the official channels for urgent help on behalf of these desperate South Africans, but have largely been met with curt replies or silence, despite even offering to assist. As the matter is urgent, we have collaborated with the DA who will be able to use this petition to raise the issue in Parliament and hopefully resolve this situation as soon as possible for South African citizens abroad. We call on all those affected, as well as their families and friends to please sign the petition, so that we can move this frustrating situation forward for them.”

A residency permit crisis looms for South Africans living abroad as some have started to get orders to leave due to expired passports.

South Africans living, working and studying abroad wait six to twelve months for their passport renewals. In stark comparison, India recently announced a two day to two week turnaround time for their nationals renewing passports abroad!

The Covid-19 pandemic has only worsened an already unacceptable situation with South African embassies closed and South Africans citizens stranded, said DA MP Adrian Roos and DA Abroad Leader Dr Rory Jubber in a joint statement on Tuesday.

Many embassies that are now open have four to six week waiting lists just to apply for a passport renewal.

Section 21(4) of the Constitution grants every citizen the right to a passport and for those South Africans living abroad the expiry of their passport means their visa expires and they are subject to daily fines and deportation.

It is an untenable situation and the DA wrote to the Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, to request that his department finds some mechanism to grant South Africans an emergency validity extension to their passports.

“From media statements by the Minister, it is clear he does not understand the problems that South Africans living abroad are confronted with when they are unable to renew their documents in a timely manner. South Africans living abroad do not only need their passports to return to South Africa.

“They need their South African passports and other documents to be able to function legally in their countries of residence; to work, to remain as legal residents and to access vital services like healthcare and education,” said the statement.

Therefore, to assist South Africans abroad, the DA and SAPeople will petition the Minister of Home Affairs to:

  • Ensure South Africans living, working and studying abroad who are facing long waits for their renewed passports have an emergency extension to their passport that covers the 6-12 month average wait.
  • Co-ordinate with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to ensure all facilities where applications are made abroad are fully open for business and are Covid-19 safety compliant.
  • Put in place measures to reduce the turnaround time for passport applications from abroad including electronic applications at larger missions and the option to courier applications.

SAPeople receives a deluge of desperate emails daily, and can no longer stand back and just report on this matter. We hope that by collaborating with the DA – who also do not want to stand idly by while South African citizens are in need – that this petition will ensure this matter reaches the highest offices, and can soon be resolved.

Please show your support and sign the petition. And please share!