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Working in South Africa

Send in your “how I got work in South Africa” advice!

For non-South Africans who wish to work in South Africa, the following text, from the SA Home Affairs website, is instructive:

    The overriding consideration in dealing with applications for work permits is whether the employment or task to be undertaken cannot be performed by a South African citizen or an approved immigrant already residing in South Africa. It therefore follows that work permits are only granted in instances where South African citizens or permanent residents are not available for appointment or cannot be trained for the position.

The long and the short of it, then, is that it’s difficult to work in South Africa – legally – as a foreigner. The red tape that confronts both employer and potential empoloyee is voluminous, and the inclination on Home Affairs’ part to grant work permits is not exactly octane-fueled. It’s not impossible to get one, however: if the papers are in order, and the offer of work is genuine, then the permit will come. (Your Correspondent speaks from experience in this regard!)

If you go the illegal route, of course, none of the above matters: you’ll simply be joining an estimated 2 million Zimbabweans (and counting) in your quest for cash-only pay.

From the anecdotal evidence, those who opt to seek “permitless” work have a relatively high rate of success: I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard British accents in local restaurants, for instance – spoken by the people serving, not eating, the food.

  • You can also find the odd work-stay setup at certain backpackers, such as The Farm in Ceres, Western Cape.

Of course, trying to work without the necessary papers is a bit risky, primarily because it’s AGAINST THE LAW, and if you’re caught, you’ll likely be detained (and this you don’t want to have happen to you in SA, under any circumstances) and deported. But if you’ve found the work in the first place, you’re probably resourceful enough to avoid this unpleasant scenario.

SA work permit links: