South Africa: Immigration Protest in JHB

Johannesburg — Immigration practitioners are losing their jobs because of revised immigration regulations, they said in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

"We want our jobs back! We want our bread back!" they shouted as they marched from Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown to the home affairs department in Harrison Street.

"We have people we took from the streets, helped them to get these jobs that include queuing and applying for permits on behalf of our clients, they rely on this income to put food on the table," said Pitsho Nkoy, who has been a practitioner since 2005.

An amendment to the Immigration Act, which was signed into law on June 2, had removed section 46 which acknowledged the practitioners, they said.

Practitioners assist foreign nationals to apply for work, visiting, study, or business permits in South Africa by doing the administration, standing in the queue, and collecting the documents at a fee.

They say they wrote exams at the home affairs department at a cost of R3000 to qualify as practitioners.

"We wrote exams but they don't recognise our certificates anymore. They cannot take our jobs and give them to foreign companies.

"The act was amended during minister Naledi Pandor's term and it removed us from section 46. Regulations were signed without our permission," Mimi Molwane said.

She has been a practitioner since 2009.

The group said they were thinking of suing the department for loss of income.

She said initially practitioners would deal directly with the department. But with the scrapping of the practitioners in the act, their clients were now forced to use an agency to apply for permits.

The agency is apparently foreign-owned and charged extra costs.

Home affairs Johannesburg office head Khehla Miya was handed a memo.

"We accept people's views and concerns. I will forward this and give feedback to the address given," he said.

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