South Africa

Not Available

Immigration detainees

2017

Not Available

Detained children

2017

1

Long-term centres

2018

48,419

New asylum applications

2019

89,285

Refugees

2019

Overview

A key destination country for migrant labourers from across Africa and Asia, South Africa’s relationship with foreigners has been marked by turmoil in recent years. Simmering xenophobia has repeatedly exploded into violent riots targeting black immigrants and asylum seekers from a number of African countries. Although the country has only one dedicated immigration detention facility, the Lindela detention centre near Johannesburg, officials routinely use police stations and prisons to temporarily hold undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers.

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

06 November 2020

Voice of America,
Voice of America, "Mozambican Miners Return to South Africa as COVID-19 Blockade Lifts," 19 July 2020, https://www.voanews.com/africa/mozambican-miners-return-south-africa-covid-19-blockade-lifts

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been widespread concerns about the spread of infection in prisons and amongst vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers (see the 30 March update). An article published in the International Journal for Equity in Health highlights how the restrictive measures implemented by the South African government early on in the pandemic failed to take into account the “economic and health impact of the pandemic on asylum-seekers, refugees, and undocumented migrants.” The article, titled “Unspoken inequality: how COVID-19 has exacerbated existing vulnerabilities of asylum-seekers, refugees, and undocumented migrants in South Africa,” was authored by several South Africa health experts, including from the South African Medical Research Council. It concludes that the COVID-19 “containment measures adopted by the SA government through the lockdown of the nation have tremendously deepened the unequal treatment of asylum-seekers and refugees in SA. This can be seen through the South African government’s lack of consideration of this marginalized population in economic, poverty, and hunger alleviation schemes.”

According to the authors: “Organizations working with foreign-born migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic containment measures have raised concerns regarding the arrest and detention of foreign-born migrants, their placement in, and subsequent repatriation from camps and shelters. There are also reports that foreign-born migrants are more likely to be arrested for minor offenses during the lockdown period and less likely to be released on bail because of expired documentation. The closure of the Department of Home Affairs, which is responsible for renewing and issuing refugee permits, asylum permits, and residence permits, has made many foreign-born migrants vulnerable to harassment and extortion by law enforcement agents who are likely to ignore the moratorium on arrests of all those whose permits expired during the lockdown. Migrants are consequently less willing to seek testing or care for COVID-19 symptoms as they are afraid of being detained or deported. These repatriation centers and prison stations are also prone to overcrowding, making it challenging to practice social distancing and recommended hygiene measures. Under such conditions, these foreign-born migrants are at heightened risks of contracting COVID-19 but tend not to seek care when they notice the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, which makes them more likely to spread or die from the disease.”

Among the key issues highlighted by NGOs has been the ongoing closure of the country’s Refugee Reception Offices (RRO’s), responsible for migrant permit renewals as well as birth registrations, which have been closed since March. One impact of this closure has been that access to places of detention by lawyers has become more limited, according to experts from Lawyers for Human Rights. The group points to severe overcrowding in prisons and detention facilities, which were reportedly at 200-300 percent capacity when the pandemic began. The group indicates that while almost 20,000 inmates have been released in South Africa during the pandemic, immigration detention has increased. They also denounce the lack of accountability mechanisms for law enforcement misconduct.


26 May 2020

People Affected by the Coronavirus Economic Crisis Line Up to Receive Food Donations at the Iterileng Inroaml Settlement Near Laudium, Pretoria on 20 May 2020, (Themba Hadebe, AP Photo,
People Affected by the Coronavirus Economic Crisis Line Up to Receive Food Donations at the Iterileng Inroaml Settlement Near Laudium, Pretoria on 20 May 2020, (Themba Hadebe, AP Photo, "South Africa: End Bias in Covid-19 Food Aid," Human Rights Watch, 20 May 2020, https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/05/20/south-africa-end-bias-covid-19-food-aid)

Despite some positive steps announced by the South African government, including regarding the non-penalisation of migrants and asylum seekers whose visas expire during the pandemic (see 6 May update), migrants have continued to be arrested throughout the crisis. Some politicians have publicly celebrated these arrests - including Faith Mazibuko, a member of the Executive Council in the Guateng Provincial Government. Reportedly, migrants have been arrested for violating lock-down measures.

While the country has launched a food aid programme, providing supplies to vulnerable citizens in an attempt to mitigate the impacts of the two-month lockdown, the programme requires recipients to possess a national ID card. This has prevented refugees and migrants from accessing supplies.

Human Rights Watch reported in a statement on 20 May, “The South African authorities should ensure that essential goods and services are provided to everyone in need without discrimination. … Special arrangements should be made to protect the rights of vulnerable groups, including refugees, asylum seekers, and the homeless, who may not normally have access to basic goods, including food, water – potable and washing – and health care.” Other countries, like Ireland (see our 29 April update on the country), have put up “firewalls” between agencies to enable undocumented people to access social services during the crisis without risking enforcement measures.

As well as the denial of food aid to non-nationals, many have been unable to access health care. This was highlighted in a joint statement from the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights and the University of Witwatersrand’s Centre for Applied Legal Studies. Together, they point to section 27(3) of South Africa’s Constitution, which provides that “no one may be refused emergency medical treatment,” but note that a lack of solidarity with migrants and refugees has been displayed in the government’s response to the virus. “It is not in the best interest of the country if people from a segment of the society are prosecuted when they present themselves for screening, testing and treatment, or if they are excluded from medical and other essential services.”

Significant numbers of migrants in South Africa are reportedly homeless. At the start of the crisis, police rounded up hundreds of homeless persons, transferring them to Strandfontein Camp – a tented facility set up by Cape Town authorities in response to the pandemic. Conditions in this camp were quickly flagged by the South African Human Rights Commission and MSF, both of which documented severe movement restrictions, poor quality bedding, insufficient hygiene levels, and the inability to social distance. Although the facility closed on 20 May, a group of 180 who had been confined in the facilty were reportedly moved at night to an un-serviced site under a highway overpass in Culemborg, central Cape Town.


06 May 2020

"Inmates Entering a Room Inside Sun City Prison in Johannesburg For Their Video-Hearings," (News 24 Video, ‘’Justice Minister Says 16 000 Inmates Screened For Covid-19 So Far’’, 8 April 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPXTv6k34Sc)

South Africa’s main dedicated immigration detention centre is Lindela, located near Johannesburg. However, the country also uses police stations and prisons routinely to hold undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers. There are some 237 prison and jail facilities in the country, and severe overcrowding is common.

As of 5 May, there 69 cases of confirmed infections amongst prison detainees, and 90 cases amongst prison staff. On 23 April, the Inspecting Judge of Correctional Services suggested that ‘’the number of people remanded to custody be restricted and, so far as possible and justifiable, alternatives to incarceration be considered.’’

Protests erupted in correctional centres across the country in recent weeks as detainees demand to be released from overcrowded prisons. The unrest has come on the heels of concerns that the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services staged misleading video-recorded visits to prisons, including an early April visit to the Johannesburg prison which holds some 9,000 inmates, that appeared to demonstrate that proper safety procedures were being implemented, including pre-visit tests, wearing of masks, and use of hydroalcoholic gel dispensers. However, on 10 April, journalists visited the prison without any sanitary control, leading to accusations that the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services was not forthcoming about actual operations at the prison. Staff members at the Johannesburg prison said that the sanitizer “is water and fake.’’ They also reported that no one was wearing masks or gloves, even when making physical contact with inmates to take their fingerprints.

On 25 March, the government announced that asylum seekers whose visas expire after 16 March would not be penalized or arrested. However, officials continued to deport undocumented migrants, justifying this as a measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

In order to be tested for Covid-19, individuals need to fill a form (Covid-19 specimen submission) from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. This form requires a South African identification or passport number, which makes it impossible for undocumented migrants to access the test.


30 March 2020

Prisoners Inside an Overcrowded Cell in Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town, (https://edition.cnn.com/2016/02/25/africa/south-africa-jail-mandela/index.html)
Prisoners Inside an Overcrowded Cell in Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town, (https://edition.cnn.com/2016/02/25/africa/south-africa-jail-mandela/index.html)

On 20 March 2020, the Justice Minister, Ronald Lamola, advised that criminal prisons in South Africa would undergo deep cleaning in a bid to prevent coronavirus infections. In addition, visits to offenders are suspended for 30 days and testing measures are being rolled out. A local NGO, Sonke Gender Justice, has urged the government to take measures to protect prisoners from the Covid-19 crisis including releasing non-violent detainees, older prisoners or prisoners with existing illnesses. There are currently 162,875 prisoners for just 118,572 places in South Africa,

The GDP has been unable to find any reports indicating that authorities have taken measures to assist migrants and asylum seekers, including those in detention.


Last updated: June 2009

South Africa Immigration Detention Profile

A key destination country for migrant labourers from across Africa and Asia, South Africa’s relationship with immigrants has been marked by turmoil in recent years. In mid-2008, simmering xenophobia exploded into violent riots that rapidly spread throughout the country, targeting black immigrants and asylum seekers from a number of African countries (Misago 2009).

According to a report by the South African Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), although poverty and a sense of relative deprivation among the country’s poor have been key causes of xenophobia, also important are two factors closely related to the country’s apartheid past: a feeling of superiority among both white and black South Africans toward their neighbours and a belief in the exclusivity of their nation. The HSRC report asks, “How does South African nationalism, which has been promoted after apartheid to create social solidarity in a fractured society, ensure that it is open to the diversity of peoples from the region who will continue to be attracted to South Africa?” (HSRC 2008, p. 15).

Detention Policy

South Africa has struggled in its efforts to redefine its immigration policy, which under apartheid rule “was a naked instrument of racial domination” and “the official definition of an immigrant was that he or she had to be able to assimilate into the white population” (Crush 2008). According to the Pretoria-based Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), the country adopted the Immigration Act in 2002 in an effort to bring about “a more progressive, less exclusionary, immigration policy.” However, numerous human right groups, including LHR, have noted serious deficiencies in both the act itself and its implementation, including the act’s focus on preventing unauthorized immigration and the failure of appropriate authorities to follow through with provisions regarding deportation and detention (HRW 2007; LHR 2008). Section 2 of the Immigration Act highlights as one of its primary objectives “detecting and deporting illegal foreigners.”

One of the more notable features of South Africa’s contemporary immigration policy, according to LHR, has been the continued use of detention as the “primary tool of immigration enforcement in a democratic South Africa” (LHR 2008, p. 2). The group contends that although detention is governed by a legal framework provided in the Immigration Act, key provisions of the act have yet to be fully implemented. In addition, “As the South African Human Rights Commission and several human rights organisations have noted, arbitrary and unlawful detentions of illegal foreigners happen with regularity and in contravention of international and domestic human rights guarantees. These abuses are exacerbated by the difficulties involved with monitoring the various locations where foreigners are detained, including prisons, airports, police stations, an old dilapidated sports hall on a military base … and the infamous Lindela Holding Facility” (LHR 2008, p. 2).

Section 34 of the Immigration Act establishes the grounds and procedures related to the detention and deportation of “illegal foreigners.” It authorizes only immigration officers, who are part of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), to detain illegal foreigners for the purpose of deportation. It provides that such detention shall be at a place “under the control or administration” of DHA. Detainees must be notified in writing that they have been detained for the purposes of deportation, and upon request must be provided with confirmation that he or she has been issued a court warrant. If this is not provided within 48 hours, the detainee is to be immediately released. People detained for the purposes of deportation can be held for no longer than 30 days, a period that can be extended for 90 additional days upon issuance of a court warrant stating “good and reasonable grounds” for the extension. People detained for immigration reasons other than deportation can not be held for more than 48 hours. 

Asylum seekers and refugees, whose status is governed by the 1998 Refugees Act, are not officially subject to detention. The Refugee Act provides that there should be no proceedings against irregular non-citizens if they have applied for asylum or are recognized refugees. However, according to LHR, immigration officers “routinely ignore the provisions of the Refugee Act in favour of the Immigration Act’s less burdensome procedures,” which has resulted in cases of prolonged detention of asylum seekers (LHR 2008, p. 3).

Detention Infrastructure

Migrant detainees are held in a range of facilities across South Africa, including police stations, ad hoc facilities run by the police service, prisons, and one dedicated migrant detention center, the Lindela Holding Facility.

The Lindela Holding Facility (also known as the Lindela Repatriation Centre), located 30 kilometres from Johannesburg, is a privately run facility established in 1996 by the DHA and the Dyambu Trust—an organization established by the African National Congress women’s league—as an experimental centre for undocumented immigrants slated for deportation that aimed to relieve overcrowding in nearby Gauteng prison (Berg 2000, p. 75; Special Rapporteur on Racism 1999; Landau et al 2005, p. 30). The centre is located on the site of a former camp for South African miners, and its facilities were initially converted huts that could hold some 1,000 people (Special Rapporteur on Racism 1999). The center, which is now run by the private company Bosasa, has grown considerably since its founding, with press reports claiming that it has a capacity of up to 6,500 (SAPA 2005). A 2009 report by the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa claims that some 50,000 non-nationals are detained at Lindela annually (CORMSA 2009). According to the U.S. State Department’s 2008 human rights report, “There were allegations of corruption and abuse of detainees by officials at the overcrowded Lindela Repatriation Center, the country's largest detention facility for undocumented immigrants. Officers from Lindela were among those convicted by the DCS [Department of Correctional Services] of corruption or abuse” (U.S. State Department 2009).

In the town of Musina, located near the border with Zimbabwe, the South African police service runs the SMG Detention Centre, which the Global Detention Project codes as an “ad hoc” detention site because the police detain people there without proper authorization from immigration authorities (Cote 2009; Venter 2008). SMG (or the Soutpansberg Military Grounds) was initially little more than an exposed, fenced-in camp. After public outcry, detainees were placed in the camp’s former sports facility (Cote 2009). In late 2008, the Department of Home Affairs pulled its staff, leaving the South African Police Service, which is not legally authorized to detain for deportation undocumented foreigners and asylum seekers, to manage the site (Cote 2009; Venter 2008). According to some reports, as many as 15,000 people in a single day have been deported from Musina (Cote 2009). In May 2009, a court ordered that the centre be closed. However, according to a June 2009 NGO report, the "response to this order has been mixed. The facility is now being used to shelter suspected 'illegal foreigners' prior to transportation to the DHA, despite the fact that the facility’s continued operation is unlawful" (CORMSA 2009).

Two prisons run by South Africa’s Department of Correctional Services (DCS) are regularly used to confine unauthorized immigrants on warrant from the DHA, Westville Prison in Durban and Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town (Cote 2009). Typically, detainees at these prisons are held for less than a week, until immigration officials are able to transport them to Lindela or they are released (LHR 2008, p. 11). There are reports of asylum seekers being detained and deported from these prisons (USCR 2008; LHR 2008). There have also been reports of severe overcrowding and other problems at the prisons. For example, according to a media report about a 2007 investigation undertaken by a regional correctional services commissioner, “Westville Prison was alleged to have a high level of corruption and malpractice. The prison's Medium B cells had 4,337 prisoners, but had been designed to accommodate 2,137. In addition, its C1 block, which holds illegal immigrants awaiting trial or deportation, held 63 inmates when it was only meant for 19” (Naidoo 2007).

Police stations and border posts across the country are also regularly used to confine suspected “illegal foreigners” (Landau 2007; Cote 2009). People detained by police or border officials and confined at these facilities are typically held for less than 24-48 hours, until an immigration official has had the opportunity to investigate immigration charges (Cote 2009; LHR 2008, p. 11). A lawyer who represents detained immigrants told the Global Detention Project that in many instances, authorities at these locations summarily deport people back across the border or refuse to hold immigration detainees because they do not have the budget to feed them and they take up space that otherwise must be used to hold criminal suspects (Cote 2009).

There have been reports of a number of abuses being committed at police station lock ups, including summary deportation of asylum seekers, physical abuse, long term detention, the detention of minors, inadequate food provisions, among other allegations (HRW 2007; LHR 2009; Cote 2009). Detention at police stations and border posts is not considered ad hoc when a person is detained under warrant from the DHA, or when the length of detention for suspected immigration violations (without warrant from DHA) is less than 48 hours, the amount of time given authorities to investigate allegations under the Criminal Procedures Act (Cote 2009). Police stations that have reportedly been used to hold suspected unauthorized foreigners in recent years include those in Cape Town, Durban, Musina, Atterdgeville, Mokhado, Polokwane, Komatipoort, Nelspruit, Parkview, and Garsfontein (HRW 2007; LHR 2009).

Facts & Figures

South Africa is the destination for immigrants and asylum seekers from many parts of the globe, though neighbouring countries make up by far the largest percentage. The Migration Policy Institute reports, “The 2001 census, the latest date for which figures are available, showed that the migrant stock included 687,678 migrants from other Southern African developing countries (SADC) countries and 228,318 from Europe. … Other source areas of growing importance included the rest of Africa (41,817) and Asia (40,889). In all, immigrants made up 2.3 percent of South Africa's total population in 2001” (Crush 2008).

The country has seen a surge in asylum claims in recent years, especially as the situation in neighbouring Zimbabwe has grown increasingly dire. According to Human Rights Watch, as of early 2009, there were well over one million Zimbabweans in the country, many of whom had made asylum claims (HRW 2009). The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reports that the total number of pending asylum claims by the end of 2007 was 170,865 (UNHCR 2008).

The Department of Home Affairs keeps statistics on deportations, though its website provides limited access to these figures. The latest figures available on its website (as of April 2009) were from January-August 2006, during which time the country deported 165,270 people (DHA website). Countries with the highest numbers of deportees included Zimbabwe (81,249), Mozambique (69,533), Lesotho (6,658), Malawi (3,990), and Swaziland (2,304).  

References

  • Berg, Julie. 2000. Private Prisons: International Experiences and South African Prospects. University of Cape Town dissertation. 2000. 
  • Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CORMSA). 2009.Protecting Refugees, Asylum Seekers, and Immigrants in South Africa. CORMSA. 18 June 2009. Johannesburg, South Africa. http://www.cormsa.org.za/wp-content/uploads/Resources/CoRMSA%20Report%202009%20-%20Protecting%20Refugees,%20Asylum%20Seekers%20and%20Immigrants%20in%20South%20Africa.pdf (accessed 24 June 2009).
  • Cote, David (Lawyers for Human rights). 2009. Telephone conversation with Michael Flynn (Global Detention Project). 11 February 2009. Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Crush, Jonathan. 2008. “South Africa: Policy in the Face of Xenophobia.” Migration Policy Institute. July 2008.http://www.migrationinformation.org/Profiles/display.cfm?ID=689 (accessed 10 April 2009).
  • Department of Home Affairs (DHA). Website. “Inspectorate: January 2006 – August 2006 Deportation Statistics.” http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/stats/dep%20stats%202006_08.pdf (accessed 3 April 2009).
  • Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Mr. Maurice Glèlè-Ahanhanzo (Special Rapporteur on Racism).1999. Report by Mr. Glèlè-Ahanhanzo, Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/26. Addendum: Mission to South Africa (24 February – 5 March 1998). Commission on Human Rights. E/CN.4/1999/15/Add.1. 27 January 1999.
  • Forced Migration Studies Programme. 2005. "Xenophobia in South Africa and Problems Related to It." Witwatersand University. January 2005.
  • Human Rights Watch (HRW). 2007. “Keeping Your Head Down”: Unprotected Migrants in South Africa. Human Rights Watch. February 2007.
  • Human Rights Watch (HRW) Press Release. 2009. “South Africa: End Strain on Asylum System and Protect Zimbabweans.” HRW. 8 January 2009.
  • Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). 2008. Violence And Xenophobia: In South Africa: Developing Consensus, Moving To Action. HSRC. 2008.
  • Immigration Act. 2002. Act No. 13 of 2002. Government Gazette. 31 May 2002. http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=68047 (accessed 15 April 2009).
  • Landau, Loren B., Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Gayatri Singh. 2005. Xenophobia in South Africa and Problems Related to It. Forced Migration Studies Programme, University of Witwatersand. January 2005.
  • Landau, Loren. 2007. Telephone conversation with Michael Flynn (Global Detention Project). 19 March 2007. Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR). 2008. Monitoring Immigration Detention in South Africa. Lawyers for Human Rights. December 2008.
  • Misago, Jean Pierre (with Loren B. Landau and Tamlyn Monson). 2009. Towards Tolerance, Law, and Dignity: Addressing Violence against Foreign Nationals in South Africa. International Organisation for Migration. February 2009.
  • Naidoo, Amelia. 2007. “Prisons Overcrowded, Courts Overloaded in KZN.” The Mercury. 6 March 2007.
  • Refugee Act. 1998. Act No. 130, 1998. Government Gazette. 2 December 1998. http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=70666 (accessed 12 April 2009)
  • South Africa Press Agency (SAPA). 2005. "Lindela 'Running at a Loss." SAPA. 18 March 2005.
  • UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). 2008. Statistical Yearbook 2007. UNHCR. December 2008.
  • U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR). 2008. World Refugee Survey 2008. USCR. 2008.
  • U.S. State Department. 2009. 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. U.S. State Department. February 2009. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2008/af/119025.htm (accessed 19 April 2009).
  • Venter, Zelda. 2008. “Notorious Detention Facility Closes.” Pretoria News. 11 November 2008.

IMMIGRATION AND DETENTION-RELATED STATISTICS

Total number of immigration detainees by year
Not Available
2017
Number of immigration detainees on a given day
Not Available
2017
Top nationalities of detainees
Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria
2014
Number of detained asylum seekers
Not Available
2017
Total number of detained minors
Not Available
2017
Number of detained accompanied minors
Not Available
2017
Number of detained stateless persons
Not Available
2017
Immigration detainees as a percentage of total international migrant population
Not Available
2017
Estimated total immigration detention capacity
Not Available
2018
Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
1
2018
Estimated capacity of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
4,000
2017
Number of dedicated medium-term immigration detention centres
443
2017
Number of ad hoc facilities
1
2018
Number of deportations/forced returns only
15,033
2017
Percentage of persons removed in relation to total number of people placed in removal procedures
Not Available
2017
Criminal prison population
161,984
2016
157,394
2014
156,370
2013
164,793
2010
161,639
2007
187,640
2004
170,959
2001
146,435
1998
118,205
1995
104,790
1992
Percentage of foreign prisoners
6.3
2015
5.3
2010
Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
291
2016
294
2014
294
2013
331
2010
339
2007
403
2004
386
2001
349
1998
301
1995
285
1992
Population
59,300,000
2020
54,500,000
2015
50,700,000
2012
International migrants
4,224,256
2019
3,142,500
2015
2,399,200
2013
International migrants as a percentage of the population
5.8
2015
4.5
2013
Refugees
89,285
2019
89,285
2018
88,694
2017
90,958
2016
121,645
2015
114,512
2015
65,881
2014
Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
1.66
2016
2.08
2014
1.27
2012
Total number of new asylum applications
48,419
2019
35,329
2016
71,914
2014
117,188
2012
Refugee recognition rate
12.2
2014
Stateless persons
0
2016
0
2014

SOCIO-ECONOMIC INDICATORS

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)
6,482
2014
6,618
2013
Remittances to the country
1,038
2014
1,254
2011
Remittances from the country
1,372
2010
Unemployment Rate
2014
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD)
1,070.4
2014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
116 (Medium)
2015
118 (Medium)
2014
Pew Global Attitudes Poll on Immigration
89
2007

DOMESTIC LAWS AND POLICIES

Legal tradition
Common law
2018
Constitutional guarantees?
Yes (Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, as amended in 2013. Chapter 2 - Bill of Rights Section 10, Section 27 and Section 35 on human dignity and rights specific to detention.) 1996 1996
1996
Core pieces of national legislation
Refugees Act of 1998, as amended by the Refugees Amendment Act 10 of 2015 (1998) 2015
1998
Immigration Act 13 of 2002, as amended by Act 19 of 2004 (2002) 2004
2002
Regulations, standards, guidelines
Annexure B of the Regulations to the Immigration Act sets out the Minimum Standards of Detention. (2015)
2015
Immigration-status-related grounds
Detention to establish/verify identity and nationality
2015
Detention to effect removal
2015
Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations?
Yes (Yes)
2018
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration
Unauthorised stay (90)
2018
Has the country decriminalized immigration-related violations?
No
2018
Maximum length for administrative immigration detention in law.
120
2015
Maximum length of time in custody prior to issuance of a detention order
2
2018
Maximum length of detention for asylum-seekers
2
2015
Maximum length of detention for persons detained upon arrival at ports of entry
120
2018
Provision of basic procedural standards
Information to detainees (Yes) infrequently
2018
Right to legal counsel (Yes) infrequently
2018
Access to free interpretation services (Yes) No
2018
Access to consular assistance (Yes) Yes
2018
Access to asylum procedures (Yes) No
2018
Independent review of detention (Yes) infrequently
2018
Right to appeal the lawfulness of detention (Yes) Yes
2018
Complaints mechanism regarding detention conditions (Yes) infrequently
2018
Compensation for unlawful detention (Yes) infrequently
2018
Access to free interpretation services (Yes)
2015
Right to legal counsel (Yes)
2015
Independent review of detention (Yes)
2015
Types of non-custodial measures
Supervised release and/or reporting (Yes) infrequently
2018
Electronic monitoring (No) No
2018
Electronic monitoring (No) No
2018
Electronic monitoring (No) No
2018
Release on bail (Yes) No
2018
Registration (deposit of documents) (Yes) infrequently
2018
Home detention (curfew) (No) No
2018
Release (Yes) infrequently
2018
Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice?
Asylum seekers (Prohibited) Yes
2015
Unaccompanied minors (Prohibited)
2015
Persons with disabilities (Prohibited)
2015
Mandatory detention
No (No)
2018
Expedited/fast track removal
Yes
2018
Re-entry ban
Yes
2018

INTERNATIONAL LAW

Individual complaints procedure
Acceptance Year
ICERD, declaration under article 14 of the Convention 1998
1998
ICCPR, First Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966 2002
2002
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 1999 2005
2005
CAT, declaration under article 22 of the Convention 1998
1998
CRPD, Optional Protocol to o the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2007
2007
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted
Observation Date
5/6
2017
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies
Recommendation Year
Human Rights Committee 37. The State party should ensure that detention pending deportation is applied as a last resort only, with special regard being given to the needs of particularly vulnerable persons, and that individuals detained for immigration-related reasons are held in facilities specifically designed for that purpose. The State party should also strengthen its efforts to ensure adequate living conditions in all immigration centres by reducing overcrowding, providing adequate health-care services and ensuring proper sanitary conditions. 2016
2016
Regional legal instruments
Year of Ratification (Treaty) / Transposed (Directive) / Adoption (Regulation)
ACHPR, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights 1996
1996
ACRWC, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child 2000
2000
APRW, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) 2004
2004
Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
No 2008
2017
Yes 2012
2017
Yes 2017
2017

INSTITUTIONAL INDICATORS

Federal or centralized governing system
Centralized system
2018
Centralized or decentralized immigration authority
Centralized immigration authority
2018
Custodial authority
Immigration Inspectorate Division (Department of Home Affairs) Interior or Home Affairs
2018
Immigration Service (Home Affairs) Interior or Home Affairs
2009
(South African Police Service)
2009
Apprehending authorities
South African Police Services (Police) Ministry of Justice
2018
Immigration Inspectorate Division of Home Affairs (Immigration agency)
2018
Detention Facility Management
Bosasa Operations (Pty) LTD (Private For-Profit)
2018
Bosasa/Leading Prospects Training (Private For-Profit)
2009
South African Police Service (Governmental)
2009
Department of Correctional Services (Governmental)
2009
Formally designated detention estate?
Yes (Dedicated immigration detention facilities)
2018
Yes (Police stations)
2018
Types of detention facilities used in practice
Yes () Yes Yes Yes
2018
()
2015
Authorized monitoring institutions
South African Human Rights Commission (National Human Rights Institution (or Ombudsperson) (NHRI))
2018
Does NHRI carry out visits?
infrequently
2018
Do NGOs publish reports on immigration detention?
Yes
2018
Do parliamentary organs publicly report on their detention findings?
No
2018
Detention contractors and other non-state entities
Bosasa Group (For profit) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
2016