Every child needs to go to school, Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi has said.
He said when he asked the Department of Basic Education why immigrant children were barred from school, he was told the department was scared of home affairs inspectors.
"That can't happen in any modern democracy. I told them home affairs inspectors must not visit any schools unless there is a crime committed that needs home affairs. It's more dangerous to have a child who is not in school."
"Send them to school ... We'll look at the documentation later."
He was speaking to GroundUp after briefing a joint meeting of the portfolio committees on Home Affairs and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on Tuesday.
Motsoaledi told GroundUp that the three special permits which were issued to legalise the status of nationals from Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Angolans already living in South Africa, would be renewed.
"The Lesotho permit is expiring in December. I am already in the process of renewing it," said Motsoaledi. "We can't stop those special permits if the problems that led to those special permits are not yet resolved.
"Unfortunately the Zimbabwean permit was for four years and the situation never became normal in those four years. We will renew, but we can't automatically as the department. We have got to discuss with the Cabinet."
"The issue of migration is not purely a problem of home affairs as the mayor of Johannesburg would like people to believe," said Motsoaledi. "It talks to many government departments because it talks to economy; it talks to job creation; it talks to inequality; it talks to unemployment - all those issues cannot be resolved by one department which is called home affairs.
"We have accepted long ago that our borders are porous. We have presented to Parliament before that we are going to spruce up the Border Management Authority. We want to bring that forward," he said.
In 2009, the South African government introduced a Dispensation of Zimbabwean Permit (DZP) to legalise the many Zimbabweans already inside the country because of the political and socio-economic situation there.
In 2014, the DZP was renewed and renamed ZSP (Zimbabwean Special Permit), which expired in December 2017. The ZSP was replaced with the ZEP (Zimbabwe Exemption Permit), which will expire in 2021.
The ZEP entitles the holder to study or conduct employment but does not entitle the holder to the right to apply for permanent residence, irrespective of the period of stay in South Africa.
A similar dispensation was extended to nationals from Lesotho and Angola.