23/05/2018 15:06 SAST | Updated 23/05/2018 15:25 SAST

Over 200 South Africans Have Applied For Australian Humanitarian Visas

According to reports, there are 89 applications relating to 213 people seeking visas in this category.

Douglas Sacha via Getty Images

More than 200 South Africans have applied for Australian humanitarian visas after recent comments by that country's minister of home affairs. According to an Australian 9Nine News report, there are 89 applications relating to 213 people seeking visas in this category.

Aussie home affairs minister Peter Dutton has said previously that he would welcome white South African farmers.

Dutton labelled white farmers "a persecuted group" facing "horrific circumstances" of land seizures and violence and wanted his department to investigate fast-tracking their immigration to Australia.

His deputy home secretary, Malisa Golightly, told a senate committee that she had received no specific instruction to expedite South African visa applications.

"Basically, like anybody, South Africans can apply for any visa they wish, and they'll be assessed against the criterion set out in the law," said Golightly.

She did not indicate whether the visa applications were by white farmers, and insisted that applicants on humanitarian grounds have to demonstrate evidence of persecution.

While Dutton's views have garnered support among some Australian politicians, as well as attorney-general Christian Porter, it appears that Golightly's views echo those of prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who highlighted the country's "nondiscriminatory humanitarian programme".

South Africans represent by far the largest group of African-born residents in Australia.

Census data from 2006 showed that 41 percent (or 104,133) of Africans living in Australia were born in South Africa.

Out of all foreign-born residents, South Africans ranked eighth (at 181,400) in the 2016 census, and now make up 0.8 percent of the Australian population.

Meanwhile, two Australian embassy officials in Pretoria have been fired in a visa approval scandal, SBS News reported.

The two were alleged to have fraudulently issued 21 Nigerian student visas between February and April 2017.

It is claimed that criminals paid the officials for visas for the Nigerian nationals, deemed "high risk" individuals.

– News24