Pretoria - Zimbabwe contributes the greatest number of immigrants to South Africa, Statistician General Pali Lehohla said in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
“As you can see, Zimbabwe accounts for the lion's share,” he said at the release of a statistical report on documented immigrants in South Africa for last year.
There were 1939 permanent residence permits granted to Zimbabweans last year, accounting for 29 percent of such permits.
The neighbouring country accounted for 18,899 temporary residence permits, or 19 percent of the total number of such permits.
Lehohla said data on illegal immigrants, asylum seekers, and those whose permits were not granted in 2013 was not in the report.
The effect of new immigration laws on such statistics, if any, remained to be seen, he said.
“The intention of the new law is to increase efficiency... That will only be seen in the future.”
According to the study 108 711 temporary and permanent residence permits were granted last year. Of these, 6801 were for permanent residence.
For both categories, most immigrants were in their 30s, however, a fifth of permanent permits were for children aged 14 or younger.
“Migrants tend to migrate towards urban areas,” Lehohla said.
The age profile of immigrants meant cities needed to be equipped, particularly with schools, to meet the extra demands of such populations.
“Not only are people coming for work, but children have to be catered for with schooling.”
The study found differences between the median age of those granted permanent residence from African countries and those from overseas.
Those from the 10 major African countries, in terms of the number of immigrants, tended to be younger than those from other continents.
The median age of those granted permanent residence was 30 for both Zambian and Somalian immigrants, 31 for those from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and 32 for those from Zimbabwe.
This was in comparison to an average age of 46 for German immigrants, 43 for those from the United Kingdom, and 41 from the Netherlands and South Korea.
The impact of new regulations on immigration remained to be seen. The new regulations, which came into effect in May, introduce a new visa regime for South Africa. They distinguish between short-stay visas and long-stay permanent residence permits.
Visa applications need to be made by applicants in person. People wanting to change the status of their visa can no longer do so in South Africa, but have to do so at missions abroad.
The new regulations also have strict rules applicable to children, defined as anyone under the age of 18. Children travelling to and from South Africa have to produce an unabridged birth certificate with the names of both parents.
A child not travelling with both parents has to supply either an affidavit from both parents giving them consent to travel, a court order indicating guardianship, or the death certificate of the other parent, copies of the parents' or guardians' identity documents or passports, and their contact details.