Movement of people and the right of residence and establishment: a focus on South Africa

  • Johan Viljoen
  • Marie Wentzel
  • Nedson Pophiwa


This paper examines South Africa’s migration policy framework development and the initiatives undertaken on the basis of the commitments to the Abuja Treaty and successive African Union (AU) frameworks regarding the free movement of people in the region. As such the paper outlines South Africa’s compliance and contentions with the notion of free movement of people and how it tries to balance the dual roles of meeting the needs of its previously disadvantaged population at the same time as complying with principles of regional integration, which are important to its foreign policy. As will be shown in the paper, among other things, the country has been faced with implementation challenges in the enforcement of its migration policies to such an extent that non-state actors, such as communities, have resorted to violence against migrants due to perceptions that there has been an uncontrolled ‘influx’ of migrants resulting from lax law enforcement.