The Department of Home Affairs has clarified that there will be no issuing of passports and visas during the 21-day national lockdown that was announced earlier this week to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, announced this at an inter-ministerial press briefing held in Pretoria last night.

“There will be a skeleton staff for the purpose of issuing temporary IDs, temporary birth certificates as well as the issuing of death certificates,” said Motsoaledi.

Earlier this month, when the National State of Disaster was announced, the Minister of Home Affairs announced the closure of multiple ports of entry with South Africa’s neighbouring countries.

“The 18 remaining border posts will only be open for the movement of goods and services, but not for the movement of people,” said Motsoaledi. “Special arrangements will be made for citizens of our neighbouring countries who require South African healthcare services.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a countrywide lockdown on Monday (March 23) to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, announced at the same inter-ministerial press briefing that all international and domestic flights were prohibited. “This is irrespective of whether a country has been identified as high-risk or not,” said Mbalula. “Only essential air cargo will be allowed, however cargo from high-risk countries must be sanitised.”

Mbalula said all long-distance rail services, both private and public, had been closed for the duration of the lockdown, and cruise ships would be banned from entering and leaving South African ports.