South African visa - detention and deportation

Detention and Deportation – Know your rights

The South African Immigration Act No.13 of 2002 provides immigration officials with rather wide-ranging powers when it comes to the arrest, detention and deportation of illegal foreigners. In some instances, these powers have been abused as displayed in the case of Edward Samotse. Thus it has become incredibly important for foreigners to familiarise themselves with the law and their rights. Section 34 of the Act specifically deals with this issue.

Are you at risk of being detained or deported from South Africa

In terms of this section, an immigration officer is entitled to arrest an illegal foreigner, without the need for a warrant, and deport or detain said foreigner. In doing so, the immigration official must follow certain procedures.

The foreigner concerned:

  • Must be notified in writing on the prescribed form (Form 29) of the decision to deport him or her, and the subsequent right to appeal this decision;
  • May request that his or her detention for the purpose of deportation be confirmed by warrant of a Court. If such warrant is then not issued within 48 hours of the request, the foreigner shall be released immediately;
  • Shall be advised at the time of the arrest or as soon as practicably possible thereafter of the above rights, and in a language he or she understands;
  • May not be held in detention for more than 30 calendar days without a warrant of a court. This detention may be extended on good and reasonable grounds for a period not exceeding 90 days;
  • Shall be held in detention in compliance with the standards protecting his or her human rights and dignity.

In the event that a foreigner is arrested for purposes other than deportation, he or she may not be detained for a period in excess of 48 hours. The Act also makes provision for the payment of a deposit by a foreigner subject to deportation in order to defray the whole or part of the costs of his or her deportation, detention, maintenance, and custody. If said foreigner is ordered by an immigration official to make payment of the deposit and fails to do so, he or she shall be guilty of an offence and liable for a fine or imprisonment.

What to do if detained in South Africa

If you find yourself in a position where you suspect your rights are being infringed as a foreigner, it is advisable to contact a firm of attorneys in order to gain clarity. It goes without saying that officials are well within their rights to deport illegal foreigners, provided they do so through the correct channels. If you have been deported and banned from South Africa, but wish to fight the decision, you can do so by way of a visa overstay appeal for South Africa. For further details, do not hesitate to contact our offices. .

South African visa - detention and deportation

Speak to a professional

Contact Le Roux Attorneys, South African Visa specialists about your visa application. Start by selecting one of the enquiry options below

Posted in Appeals, blog, Live In SA, News, Play in SA, Visit SA.


  1. Good day I am Andre Schoeman. A Mozambique friend of mine has been arrested on 11 June 2016 for carrying him papers with him. The family of this man are not sure why he has been held so long as all his paperwork is in place

  2. Hello Andre. Sorry to hear about the situation in which your friend is currently in. There is definitely something we can do for your friend. Could you send us your enquiry again by email to, explaining the situation and provided with your telephone number. An attorney who deals with this matter will get back to you as soon as possible.

  3. hi how r u dear, my brother syed tahir mehmood having lesthdo pasport with him was arrested at johansberg airpor yesterday me still not know about him plz do some if u can plz any information about him give me i will b thankful to u+923072188643

  4. Hie my gal was arrested in 25 of May they sent her to prison for 2 month and now she is in botlokwa police station for 2 weeks 6days so plz help me

  5. Hello
    My fiancée is from the UK he has been living here for 2years he has his own construction company and was doing a contract for the government.
    His daughter got very sick and was rushed to hospital in the UK he went to be with his daughter when he came back to SA the government told him that they are behind in his contract and he must pay the government an amount of 2million rand when he said no that he would make sure that the building is complete on time they did not accept it and sent him out the country we want to be married this was to happen in July.
    Can he come back to SA without being arrested and sent back
    Thank you

  6. Hi Collen

    Thank you for contacting us, sorry to hear about your situation. Please email this overview to and include your contact details and he will get back to you.

    Kind regards,
    The SAVisas Team

  7. Hi I dnt know where to start,but a friend from the uk came to visit me,he has been detained johannesburg airport,his name is andrew ishmael he laned here on the 12th of october 2016 I dnt know why they dont let him go he payd in of the money they wanted of him but his still being detained,can you please help me

  8. Hi Ronel

    Thank you for contacting us. Please email this to with your contact details and he will be in contact with you about the matter.

    Kind regards,
    The SAVisas Team

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