Two South African banks – Bidvest and Absa South Africa – have confirmed that they will continue to assist people with asylum or refugee documentation that has expired during this period. We are calling on other South African banks to make the same announcement.
Businesses during extended lock-down
If your company is registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission's (CIPC)'s BizPortal and is performing essential services during the lock-down period, you will be required to have a certificate from the BizPortal website. Visit the BizPortal, for more information.
Community screening is done door-to door, by healthcare workers. Healthcare workers are NOT connected to immigration or the Department of Home Affairs. Each healthcare worker will be in uniform, and they will have an Identity Badge with their name on. If they come to your house, they will ask you a set of questions in order to identify whether you have symptoms and need to go for a test. It does not involve you being medically tested at your home. You can read more about it here.
Our offices are closed due to the lock-down – but we are still online! Programmes are in direct contact with clients, but if you have a question for a specific programme, click here to find out who you can contact.
Documentation / Home Affairs
Those asylum/refugee visas: Home Affairs has said that “Any asylum seeker whose visa expired from 16 March 2020 to the end of the lockdown period will not be penalised or arrested provided that they legalise their visa within 30 calendar days of the lockdown being lifted… These temporary measures will remain valid until 31 July 2020 unless extended officially by the Department.” A similar protocol applies to those seeking services from Refugee Reception Offices – such as those on refugee status – although this has not been updated, despite requests to do so.
Those on immigration visas (work, business, study, etc): Home Affairs has said that “those whose visas which expired from 15 February 2020 will not be declared illegal or prohibited persons … [nor] will they be arrested or detained for holding an expired visa … If they wish to apply for an extension, they may reapply for their respective visas or relevant visa exemptions while in the Republic immediately after the lockdown has been lifted…These temporary measures will remain valid until 31 July 2020 unless extended officially by the Department.”
In terms of civic services at the Department of Home Affairs, DHA has confirmed that services such as birth registration (not late registration of birth), temporary identity certificates, collection of smart IDs, replacement of birth/death certificates, passports for those in delivery of essential goods and those who are travelling outside the country for medical services are being provided.
The Department of Transport has confirmed that all learner’s licences, driving licences, temporary driver’s licences, motor vehicle licence discs, temporary permits, roadworthy certificates and professional driving permits that expire between 26 March 2020 – 31 May 2020 are valid, and their validity period is further extended until 1 June 2020.
If you feel unsafe during lock-down, or want to report a crime, or need a similar urgent services, click here to see a list of numbers to call who can support you – which has been translated into different languages.
The South African government has confirmed that no evictions can take place during the lockdown. Ndifuna Ukwazi has made a poster explaining this, here. For more information contact email@example.com.
Financial Relief (Governmental)
Some governmental relief packages are open to applications from non-South African citizens. We have complied a list of some of them here. These packages are not limited in terms of nationality or citizenship, however you will still have to satisfy the other requirements.
Information on lock-down
It is important to understand the rules and information on the current lock-down. Click here to see our posters on this, which are translated into Lingala, Swahili, Shona and French.
During lock-down, if you require legal advice, click here for CoRMSA's list of useful contacts. You can also call the Legal Support Hotline on 066 076 8845. To get in touch with our Advocacy Programme, please call 0782603536 or send us a please-call. This is operational between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.
Preventing the spread of Corona-19
Click here to download and share our posters about covid-19. These posters are translated into 12 different languages!
Reporting abuse by police and military during lock-down
Under lock-down, the police and military have a role to prevent the spread of covid-19. To this end, they can only use force in very specific circumstances. Lawyers for Human Rights have created an infographic to explain this, and how to report on it – click here to view it. The Military Ombudsman can be called on 076 609 2255.
Rent – paying rent during lockdown
Under lock-down, paying rent might not be easy. If you are having trouble paying your rent, first engage with your landlord. Ndifuna Ukwazi has created an infographic on What happens if you cannot pay rent during lockdown. They have also created a podcast which you can listen to for more details.
SASSA services will continue and SASSA has confirmed that high-volume areas will receive additional capacity.
SASSA Grants are accessible by South African citizens, those with refugee status, or those with permanent residency in South Africa. In order to apply, a 13-digit ID number is required. For those on refugee status, this 13-digit ID number is generated only when a Refugee ID is applied to (which is different to refugee status, and can only be applied to if refugee status is granted). However, SASSA has made provision, under lockdown, for those refugees who, although they have refugee status, do not have a 13-digit ID as they have not applied for a refugee ID. This is a temporary measure only. SASSA will generate a unique 13-digit ID for these cases. The applicant must phone the SASSA helpline, and get instructions on the various steps they have to take; one of which is deposing to an affidavit.
If your refugee status has expired, we advise you to try to claim your SASSA grant. You can also contact: 0800 601011 for SASSA questions. If you are then denied access, please call Refugee Rights Unit on 021 650 5581 for legal assistance.
Please note: The Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant is open for applications. This is open to those with refugee status or permanent residency. Scalabrini has written to the South African government asking that this be extended to all non-South Africans too.
Thanks to new Directions relating to spaza shops, published by the Department of Small Business Development confirmed that all spaza shops – regardless of the owner's nationality – should remain open during lock-down, subject to certain requirements (for example, holding the appropriate municipal permit). If you are affected by the closure of a spaza shop on the grounds of nationality, please contact the Legal Hotline on 066 076 8845 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for a useful guide on running a spaza shop / informal trading during lock-down.
Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)
Because of the covid-19 lockdown, the ‘COVID-19 Temporary Employee / Employer Scheme’ has been set up. This helps employers pay a part of their employee’s salary. Normally, your employer should start this process. Contact the Department of Labour's Hotline (012 337 1997) for more information.
If your employer is not using this Scheme and you are a UIF contributor and are unemployed because of termination, dismissal, or insolvency, or if you have reduced income owing to reduced working hours, you may be eligible for normal UIF benefits – apply here. For more info, follow this UIF guide, call UIF for assistance (0800 843 843 or 0800 030 007), or read our Explainer on UIF.
You can also email us on email@example.com or call our Advocacy Hotline on 078 260 3536 for support and advice.
We encourage those needing welfare assistance to research all available options, including your local Community Action Network, churches and masjids.
Regarding Scalabrini's Welfare Team, please note, our Welfare Team has a very limited fund to help refugees and migrants at this time. Please understand that the Welfare Team are simply not able to assist everyone. We are receiving a very high number of calls and requests. Your application for Welfare Assistance will be assessed, but we cannot assist everyone. To apply, please (1) call the Welfare Team Hotline 0685660956, (open Monday-Friday 9am-4pm) or,
(2) send a please-call to the same number (0685660956) or (3) email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We understand that this is a difficult time, but please have patience when contacting the Welfare Team. Many thanks.