Illegal immigration to South Africa

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Irregular immigration to South Africa refers to migration of foreign nationals to South Africa without the authorisation of the South African authorities. A range of estimates of the size of the population of irregular migrants in South Africa exist, but these have been described as inaccurate.

Profile and demographics

No accurate estimates of the number of undocumented migrants living in South Africa exist.[1] Estimates that have been published vary widely. According to Statistics South Africa's 2012 census, 2.2 million foreigners live in South Africa,[2] and the organisation's 2015 estimate places the number of undocumented migrants between 500,000 and one million undocumented migrants.[3] A large number of Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa as a result of instability in Zimbabwe, with many living as undocumented migrants in South Africa.[1][4]



Sociologist Alice Bloch notes that migrants in South Africa have been the victims of xenophobia and violence, regardless of their immigration status.[4]

Economic effects


  1. 1.0 1.1 Chiumia, Sintha (5 November 2013). "How many Zimbabweans live in South Africa? The numbers are unreliable". Africa Check. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  2. Wilkinson, Kate (15 July 2015). "New York Times & others STILL wrong on number of immigrants in S. Africa". Retrieved 28 August 2015. 
  3. Mwiti, Lee (22 April 2015). "Seven of the biggest myths about South Africa and xenophobia - and how they drive attacks". Mail & Guardian Africa. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bloch, Alice. "The Right to Rights? Undocumented Migrants from Zimbabwe Living in South Africa". Sociology. 44 (2): 233–250. doi:10.1177/0038038509357209.