South Africa will deport all illegal migrants including from other nationals to Kenya as part of a new deal that will relax the current strict Visa restrictions for Kenyans.
Under the new deal, brokered by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa following a state visit to the country by the President last month, it will now be the responsibility of Kenya to block all illegal migrants from entering South Africa from Kenya.
Kenya will also be required to take back the deported illegal migrants from South Africa who entered the country from Kenya, shifting the burden of curbing the flow of illegal migrants to Nairobi.
South African Foreign minister Naledi Pandor said on Sunday Kenya and South Africa reached the deal about the deportation amid an increase of people from abroad to Kenya then driving to South Africa.
“We have now signed agreements on returning illegal entrants, so now we are moving towards granting an e-visa, which we have piloted in India and which is working quite well,” she was quoted saying by South Africa news outlet Daily Maverick.
“We have been saying to Kenya, ‘you have a responsibility to stop people’ because if you’re an asylum seeker, the first country they come to should be the one they remain in. They shouldn’t be crossing borders. We have agreed now that we can send [people] back if there is clear proof that they have been through Kenya.”
Tough South African visa restrictions for Kenyan travellers and traders have prevented free entry into South Africa and made it difficult to do business in South Africa for Kenyans.
The restrictions, which have remained a thorny issue for the two countries, include a Sh5,350 processing fee that takes at least five working days to process.
Kenyan Visa applicants must also provide sufficient proof of funds, return flight air tickets among others.
South African nationals on the other hand have it easier as they can get a Kenyan visa for free on arrival to the country.
South Africa exported Sh45.7 billion worth of goods to Kenya in 2020, against imports from Kenya of Sh3.48 billion signaling trade is heavily skewed in favour of South Africa amid the restrictions.
Kenya and South Africa set up a committee to deal with difficulties related to visas following a state visit by President Kenyatta.