Original Research

International movements, post-apartheid dispensations and illegal immigration into South Africa

Kambidima Wotela, Cleophas Letsiri
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 11, No 4 | a46 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v11i4.46 | © 2015 Kambidima Wotela, Cleophas Letsiri | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 February 2016 | Published: 31 December 2015

About the author(s)

Kambidima Wotela, Wits Graduate School of Governance (WSG), University of the Witwatersrand, Wits, South Africa
Cleophas Letsiri, Wits Graduate School of Governance (WSG), University of the Witwatersrand, Wits, South Africa

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Arising from the supposed negative impact of illegal immigration, including security threats as well as recent xenophobic violence, the South African Government would like to counter illegal immigration. To do this, it needs to understand the root causes of illegal immigration into the country. This article, therefore, seeks to explain and interpret why illegal immigrants make South Africa their ideal choice of destination. To provide a context, the article begins with a discussion on the research setting, that is, the South African international boundaries. Thereafter, the article discusses the concept of illegal immigration from the South African context before reviewing literature on the number of illegal immigrants in South Africa and the supposed impact. The article then explores literature on international movements and discusses established migration frameworks that explain and interpret these movements. Lastly, to confirm some facts arising from the review, we interviewed officials that manage illegal immigration as well as detained immigrants. We establish that four migration streams that have created a blended society in Southern Africa sparked illegal immigration into South Africa. The article conclude that the problem of illegal immigration into South Africa is perpetuated by deep-rooted migration networks. Therefore, if the South African Government wants to avert illegal immigration, its policy-makers should examine these roots and take them into account to arrive at a solution that is in sync with the root causes of the problem.


immigration; illegal immigrants; migration push and pull factors; migration networks


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doi: 10.1080/02589346.2020.1840022