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. .[/vc_column_text][/vc_column]

South African visa - detention and deportation

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


  1. Good day,
    My friend from Tanzania has been arrested at 15-05-2019. His family doesn’t know where is he now and reason why he has been held so long. Last time he was online at 16-05-2019. From that moment until now we have no any information about him.
    Help please us, any information about him!

  2. I think somehow there are loopholes in the law of South Africa. I don’t see any crime or a delict when an immigrant is carrying loads of money, more specially when an immigrant has a passport and a permit to be here in South Africa. I think the parliament must try to amend, delete or add some laws. What is not going to happen is, we’re not going to stop our friends and relatives from other countries from visiting us, we need those people.

  3. My husband Mr Jimmy Alfred was just detained today ,because he was found with two million pounds in his briefcase, and they are demanding me to pay$500 dollars for his document to be reased to get on the next flight to Zambia, they are saying they ceased his money by customs why can’t the custom use the same money they have ceased for him to pay that $500 dollars because I don’t have such kind of money, saying that if I delay they will deport him why is this fair can’t they ask him what kind of work or job he do, I want my husband with me.

  4. Anonymous
    My Fiance is from UK, he was here last year, because he entered the country with an excess amount of US Dollars, he was been held at immigration, i was asked to pay on th e first day R8000 to get a clearance certificate, the next day i arrived in Cape Town to meet him because i was told he has the clearance certificate, the lady that was helping him told me i should go the the hotel he will meet me there in an hour i should not wait, they will open a temp account, later i was told to pay a further R4000.00 and again within an hour he will meet me. I get a call at around 4pm to say i need to pay R12000 transfer cost, i paid that on the Monday, he was issued with an ABSA bank card and was told it will take 72hours for the funds to clear, they cannot stamp him into the country until the funds are clear, few hours later he gets an email to sa he needs to pay R18k to have the funds released as SARS placed a hold on the funds, to date he has not received his money back. He was here to visit me again and this time without any money and was stopped, saying he has criminal charges against his name and has to pay R5k if not they need to deport him. How are we suppose to prove his innocence, he is here to visit me because i am sick and we are going to get married soon

  5. A man come from UK Easter weekend to visit me .They took all his things and told me he came with a lot of money and I have to pay for it.IThan it was his visa had expired than its some jewelry he had I paid alot of money for all that things.Now it’s his passport I don’t have money to sent anymore.I want to know why can he not pay for it. His still there and was sick several times.Dont mention my name please


  7. I have a child and have apply for permit and denied I want to do a court wedding with my wife but I don’t know if It will required a permit or asylum bcos i don’t have any of this pls hoe can u help me I really need it to travel with my family and see my parents at home

  8. good day, i have a building that is being rented to a legal pakistsnian. he has two workers one pakistaniaan and one zimbabwiaan. yesterday home affairs or immigration came and arrested these two workers, it seems the zimbabwean has a problem regarding his passport or permit. but the pakistanian is legal with all the right documents, yet he got arrested and put in jail. i can umderstand if zimbawiaan arrested if documents not right , but my question is why did the pakistanian get arrested and what steps will get taken now? he is still in jail pending appearance in court. could you advise as their family dont know what to do regarding the pakistanian.

  9. Good Day
    I have a good friend . he has been in south africa for 14 years. Married a south african for 13 years but not legally divorced. They have been separated for 3+ years and she refuses to assist him with papers to legalise him. They have two children together. How can he fix his situation and not be sent back for 5 years.

  10. An ex-employee recently left us because he didnt like the fact that the we kept requesting his working permit, since he was from Swaziland. I’m now under the impression that he is in the country illegally. Now that he left, he is poaching our customers and trading under our business name. What am i to do legally? Can i report this to authorities or the police station?

  11. I have a workmate who was arrested for not hsving a valid work permit.What must we do to help her out as she is very young to experience jail .

  12. Dear Sir/Madam,
    I have a friend who was living in south Africa for 3 months with a touristic visa. Because her visa was about to expire , she decide to apply for a new visa at home affairs in Peoria as she also wanted to study in South Africa. After getting a study visa from Home Affairs, she spent 8 months in South Africa and decide to go outside of the country. When she comes back she has been refused the entrance at the airport because apparently, the immigration service couldn’t find her visa in the system thus a stamp of rejected entry has been put in her passport and the reason was because they state that her visa was a fraudulent visa ; but without giving any penalties. She has been held for few days at the airport while waiting for a flight back for her country. I would like to know if she reapply for a new visa is she still able to comes back in South Africa without any problem? or because she got a stamp saying that the visa was fraudulent and she has been rejected, thus she as been denied the entrance, does it means that she is forbidden to enter South Africa for a while? Until now we still don’t know why her visa was not recognize because the visa has been issued in Pretoria from homes affairs.

  13. He is still there at the airport where they are keeping him, I have put the money but they want more. They took all of his things .

  14. Hello good people
    I need help a from of mine come to south Africa 08 -03-2018 ,and when he got to the immigration office ,he was told that he is carrying a lot of money, in order for him to go to Pietermaritzburg he must stay there until he pay $1500 , so he slept there at the airport. So I got a call that do I know this person so I told them that I know the person so I was told that they are keeping there until he pay for them to free him. Or they will take him back to UK. They gave me the banking details for me to put the money. So my question is that if you brink a lot of money to south Africa ,they take your things and you have to pay . what is that payment for?

  15. Hello… Please i need help on how to go about this problem, I & my husband & child where going to visit nigeria, then at joburg airport sent us to immigration then they told us my husband passport was fake then he told them he did it with a agency. They said they are suppose to arrest him but will allow him to pass go back to Nigeria & his not allowed to come back… we trying to appeal but it is taking time… he has a good job & family here… please help

  16. Dear. Sir/Madam
    My hubby ID has been blocked because they suspect that he is ellegal Migration. He is got house in his name, permanent employee. We have. 4kids together.and he payed. Lobola and we done traditional. Wedding it seems he does not have required. Document. How do he get help thinking for my kids future ?

  17. Hey there,
    What is the procedure for when a foreigner is arrested for public violence in Johannesburg?

  18. if iam in South Africa and i come here with permite and my permite expire few days ago, i dont have money to fix now iam arrested so what can i do?

  19. Good day my name is Moses I have been living in SA since 2014 I couldn’t renew my visa after the expiry date…I have one child now and I decided to apply for a permit which I did past January. .this February I was arrested and I did provide my receipt but the immigration office told me it’s fake ….and he laid charges ….I was in court and the judge asked him to verify the receipt again and this time he says it’s original and in process. .now I am on bail and have to appear in court again on 23rd what should I do

  20. Good morning how long does it take to deport same one who was in prison for 4 months know he is out but under home affairs it took how many day for him to be out to his country

  21. Hello i was recently deported from south África and i have my genuine visa… An imigration officer took my Phone during the cos of interview and starts reading my WhatsApp mesages… And i told her not to read my private mesages and she got annoyed and gave me a paper which says i fail imigrator profilling and i was deported back

  22. hey my bf is being in jail for 5yrs,he was due to come out on the 14/12/2017.On the 13 the were call in by home affairs to be told that ..their papers are not up to dated and will be deported.the problem is it was up to date wen he was sentenced but while being in the care ,it I have not heard anything of him since the 1st nothing at all so I got no glue where he is and wat the procedure is that one must follow please help me.

  23. Good day can you please help spiritual father from benin was arrested in 2012 and is still incarceration without being granted bail.

  24. On thursday eve my friend was arrested an taken to the airport to be deported..his asymlum papers did expire but he went to police station for avidavid and he did apply for new papers an was waiting on friend showed the police the necessary papers but they took him to the airport without allowing him to call anyone…the took his cell phone an all his money without returning it…how can this be when he did renew his papers…he is from bangladesh…he spent so much money an was not given a chance to explain….can someone help please…

  25. My boyfriend is a Britian, also an American citizen. He had a contract for an oil company installing oil pipes and engines offshore. He fulfilled the contract with the agent and returned the rented equipment. He got to the airport to depart and found he had been in SA longer than his passport allowed. They sent him to immigration and he showed them his passport and work documents. They then said he owed 87k in taxes on the rented machinery. He is now being detained and they want payment. What remedy is there?

  26. My friend is visiting me but they fined him and didn’t allow him to enter South Africa and I am confused since i don’t anything in the immigration environment please help me so my friend can be released from being deported from South Afrinca

  27. Hi my brother is UK Citezen and has served a prison sentence. He is due to be released in September but the home affairs are saying he could go out to a police cell until they decide how to deport him as the flights back to the UK are from Jo Berg and he is in Durban. They have no means to get him to Jo Berg.

  28. Hi pls advise I am married to a pakistani foreigner 3years now .. he has asked me for my south african passport to apply for a visa… what is the pros & the cons of what I.should be aware off .. and if so I am not sure if my passport is used illegally whom should I contact .. how should I put a stop to this… if so.. as I.heard pakistani marry south african women for the ids only.. anonmous..

  29. Hi I was in south afreqa from 5 years I get my work parmat there but when I was traveling to my country they cancel my work parmat they said it’s a fake parmat that some one did for me now from Dubai they did not allow me to travel because refeuse of imegration now I want to go to Swaziland so they gona allow me to travel. From my country to there earport for sty in the earport and than same day travel to Swaziland or not pls let me know any one sir

  30. Good day

    How can someone who has been detained and their permit is going to expire while they inside be able to renew their permit. This person is still awaiting a bail hearing and trial. So how can he renew his permit while in prison?

  31. Good Day
    My name is Stephen Nyamwanza. I have my young brothers child who was arrested in Polokwane Limpopo for stealing from a shop. The child is an undocumented person who is also married and have two children and breastfeeding. How best can I help her out. The Father my young brother is not concerned and I can add the child has a mental problem. The father and mother are devorced. Mother is now working as a Domestic helper in South Africa the father is a Truck Driver in Tzaneen.

  32. Hi a friend of mine has been arrested for the passport that is expired his from Swaziland he been arrested in South Africa by home Affairs at Engcobo they kept him in Elliot police station this happened on the 8 June wat will happen to him.

  33. Hi a friend of mine has been arrested for the passport that is expired his from Swaziland he been arrested in South Africa by home Affairs at Engcobo they kept him in Elliot police station this happened on the 8 June wat will happen to him.

  34. Hi my dear may I know please tell me if some one had been deported from south Africa so he is banned for how long would you like to give me the information

  35. Looking for Enoch Talia from Nigeria his got three kids in south African but didn’t hear from him in four years and his son 17 with me is looking for him and all I know is the that his last whereabouts was in Midrand with a lady call Pinky and with a son with him called junior that is about 6 or 7

  36. Hello
    My father passed away 2 years ago. We did not receive his death certificate from home affairs because they declared him an illegal immigrant. My father had an ID document that he obtained from the home affairs in 1993. We have a passport that he applied for in 1986, this shows he had an ID before this one we have. He and my mother have a marriage certificate obtained from the home affairs. Now that he’s deceased the home affairs is not able to register his death and tells us we have to provide proof that he’s South African so they can remove that mark. How can the we get help.

  37. Hi, so a friend and her husband, who have been in S.A. for 13 years, and have an adopted daughter from S.A., and own a house, have applied for an extension on their visa’s. The husband was given an extension of 2 years, and she has been told she us being deported in 10 days (now 5 days). How does this happen? Why does home affairs break up families? Her lawyer says she must buy an air ticket, go back to Europe, and reapply? Is there any way to help her.

  38. Morning , I’m nomcebo. I was deported on the 2 of December 2016 by home affairs due t the I’D I got before marriage since I was a swazi from Swaziland. Was issued warranty of arrest and detained same time. I’m married in south for 17 years and having a daughter which I got in marriage. I’m was permanent employed by dept of education now I’m not working not seeing my family. I have done my matric n went to university here. I’m having 18 years staying in south africa. My family needs me , I left everything in south africa .was allowed even t take clothes. Please help me t go back to my daughter. She not doing well at school because she is worried by the my deportation. She need my support as a mother.

  39. My spouse had his id blocked and according to home affairs it says illegal immigrant. In an efford to rectify this I discovered he does not have the requires documentation. Clearly it was obtained illegally.
    As we speak the house is in his name, we have 3 kids together. He has paid lobola.
    Is there a way that you can assist us in resolving this problem without us being separated. Please help

  40. Please ‘ have currently overstayed here in south africa after my 10 days visa expired ‘ November 2016r ‘ please what can i do to remain legally in south africa ?

  41. Please ‘ have currently overstayed here in south africa after my 10 days visa expired ‘ November 2016r ‘ please what can i do to remain legally in south africa ?

  42. Hi my husband is been arrested he went to home affairs to renew his assylum and I go there to ask what happened they told me that they are going to deport him.I’m talking about a bread winner father of my kids.M not working what must i do with my kids?or its wrong to marry a foreigner?they are human being like us pls now my kids must be fatherless is that true

  43. Hi
    My partner of 2 years is in SA as an illegal immigrant. His permit expired 4 years ago and he never renewed it. He has recently renewed his passort but needs a permit. Can anytging be dine to help him?

  44. Dear Sir / Madam,
    A friend of mine lost his Asylum papers. He was arrested and detained in a holding cell over the weekend. His papers expired round a bout 12 December 2016. How long grace period is there to have your papers renewed? How can I obtain a copy of his papers whilst he is in the holding cell?
    Can any other legal documents be used to prove that he is not illegal in SA?
    Please advise urgently.
    Thank you for your time!

  45. Hi there
    My Malawian gardener has been detained since Sunday., today is Friday. Should he have been let go after 48 hours as there was no warrant of court?

  46. Hi there. My gardener was arrested/detained on Sunday for being an illegal, he is still in jail. Is this allowed or should they have let him go after the 48 hours without warrant of court?

  47. My accounting client wants to understand the process of what happens to someone who is in SA on a spousal visa (which he couldn’t renew) and him and his wife has now split up. He is now apparently on a deportation order. He owns a business and is trying to sell it before he needs to leave the country. My worry is that the sale of the business may not be concluded and the assets (and future income stream?) may be frozen. I don’t want to give poor advice to either my client or the potential buyer. What pitfalls you foresee and how do you recommend I advice him?

  48. Hi Van Raba

    Thank you for contacting us. We assume that the system will still pick up the overstay ban based on all your details. We suggest you apply for a waiver of the ban if you wish to enter South Africa again. For more information please email

    Kind regards,
    The SAVisas Team

  49. Hi Dineo

    Thank you for contacting us. Please email with your contact details and the details of your fiance’s situation and a consultant will get back to you on the matter.

    Kind regards,
    The SAVisas Team

  50. Hi there…my fiance have been deported yesterday from cape town airport following that he has been blacklisted from entering the country as he had sent me money illegally by a courier company. …what can be done to clear his name cos we are suppose to get married in april


  52. A Zimbabwean friend of mine got arrested last Thursday as he was working illegally in South Africa. He had no visa or work permit. What happens next after this? Does it mean he will be deported and banned from entering South Africa? Is there anything I, or anyone can do to avoid deportation?

  53. Hi Akinwale

    Thank you for contacting us, we are sorry to hear about the situation with your husband. If you are seeking assistance from the Department of Home Affairs, please or phone:0800601190.

    We are an immigration law firm and we can only try to assist you if we have more details about your husband’s situation. Please email if you wish to use our services.

    Kind Regards,
    The SAVisas Team

  54. Please kindly release my husband,His Children wanted him,they have been Crying like there is tommorrw,I don’t even have my peace of night again since he called me with a strange Number telling him they arrested as illegal immigrant

    Pls save me,save my heart from been shredd into pieces

  55. Hi Kholiwe

    We’re sorry to hear about your cousin’s situation. Please email the summary of your situation to with your contact details and he will get back to with advice on the matter.

    Kind regards,
    The SAVisas Team

  56. Hi Stacey

    My cousin was depoted to Swaziland in 2010 and her passort was destroyed and they banned her for 5 years not coming to S.A. bt now the period is over yet she still not allowed in what must she do because she did appeal but his case is still existing please help

  57. Hi Maximillian

    Thank you for contacting us. Please email with an overview of your situation, the type of permit you were applying for and your contact details and a consultant will get back to you with advice.

    The SAVisas Team

  58. his I was given someone money to he said he can process my permit but he take my R3000 cash in hand and he just make for me a appointment letter but after that nothing happened he just keep quite

  59. 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

  60. 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

  61. 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

  62. 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

  63. 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

  64. 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

  65. 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.

  66. 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

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