Rich plot their escape from SA

ROXANNE HENDERSON | 2017-05-03 06:29:18.0
Some South Africans are eyeing places like New Zealand as emigration destinations.
Photograph by: GETTY IMAGES

South Africa's super-rich are adding dual citizenship to their shopping lists.

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Immigration experts have seen an increase in South Africans looking for a way out of the country - some are emigrating, while others want a "plan B".

The day after President Jacob Zuma's cabinet reshuffle, inquiries about emigration shot up by 250%, said Stuart James, a director at consultancy firm Intergate Immigration.

Jacques Scherman of Arton Capital, a financial advisory firm specialising in investor programmes for residence and citizenship around the world, said he first saw an increase in requests last year, at the height of the #FeesMustFall protests.

"The majority of the people who come and see me are entrepreneurs. They're successful, but they are very concerned about the political stability of the country.

"They don't want to jump ship. Most of them want to stay here, but they want to have the option to leave if radical economic transformation takes the form of seizures of property and violent attacks on their families," he said.

Scherman's clients are mostly white family men in their 40s who "want their plan B, in case they need it".

James says he has seen skilled South Africans moving quickly to emigrate following Zuma's controversial cabinet reshuffle at the end of March.

"There's a definite increase in people that are leaving. Profoundly, in the last two to three weeks. The day after the reshuffle our inquiries went up by 250%."

James is helping South Africans emigrate to New Zealand and Australia. Some of his clients are travelling abroad to increase their chances of finding employment.

Scherman's clients are in a different league, with at least $30-million in assets. The majority of them live in Johannesburg and Pretoria and are able to buy their way into countries like Portugal and Bulgaria.

To secure citizenship or residency, South Africans would need to either buy property or make capital investments of between €200,000 and €500,000 in Portugal.

South Africans can get citizenship in Bulgaria if they invest about €500,000 in a governmental bond portfolio for a period of five years.

"Most of the time they're saying they don't see a future for their children [here]," said James.

Department of Home Affairs spokesman Thabo Mokgola said anyone who took up citizenship in another country without informing the government could lose their South African citizenship.

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