Same-sex family to reunite after Home Affairs approves residency permit


Same-sex family Francois Oosthuizen and Bowen Li simply want to live in South Africa together with their son

A binational same-sex family is on the verge of being reunited after Home Affairs finally granted a residency permit to one of the men, a Chinese national, allowing him to stay in South Africa.

In April, we reported on the plight of Francois Oosthuizen, a 40-year-old South African, his Chinese national husband, Bowen Li, 37, and their four-year-old son, who were forcibly separated due to the department’s refusal to permit Li to stay in the country.

While Oosthuizen resided in Cape Town, the rest of his family remained in China, hoping for the approval of Li’s permanent residency. Despite being married for almost seven years and having all their paperwork in order, Li’s application had been pending for over two years.

In desperation, the couple created a petition on, urging Home Affairs to expedite their application. On Friday, an ecstatic Oosthuizen informed Mamba that the department had issued Li a permanent residency certificate.

“We are extremely excited and relieved that it’s finally over, and we now have the document,” Oosthuizen said. “Currently, we are awaiting a document from the Chinese government for our son. Once we have sorted out that paperwork, they will come and join me here in South Africa.”

He expressed gratitude to the thousands of people who signed the petition and showed support for their family.

“We are very grateful for everyone’s assistance. I believe the campaign made a real difference, particularly the articles that were published, as they exerted pressure on the Department of Home Affairs to take action.”

Oosthuizen also acknowledged the numerous other binational couples facing similar challenges in navigating the department’s bureaucracy.

“There are many people experiencing the same situation as us, and some have even been waiting much longer than we have,” he noted. “Perhaps they didn’t initiate a campaign or didn’t exert enough pressure on the Department of Home Affairs to take action.”

According to a Business Day report in March, the backlog for permanent residence permits at Home Affairs amounted to 49,529 cases, with the majority pending for more than eight months and some dating back to 2016.

Oosthuizen is looking forward to seeing his husband and son in the coming days. “The first thing I’d like to do is just hug them and kiss them. And be with them again… be reunited,” he said.

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