Erroneous reporting of undocumented migrants in SA
25 Jul, 2022

Stats SA is entitled to comment on erroneous interpretation and misuse of statistics. This week reports in the media erroneously made a statement of fact that our numbers state that we have 4-million undocumented migrants.

The news media reported on the 2nd and 3rd of August, 2021 related to the initiatives of the Department of Health to vaccinate undocumented migrants and have made erroneous claims that Stats SA and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) have estimated this sub-group at 4 million persons.

Stats SA wishes to categorically indicate that it has at no point made any estimation or comment on undocumented migrants.

“If one uses the output of foreign born persons enumerated in Census 2011 and adds to it the net international migrants for the period 2011-2016 as well as the period 2016-2021 from the 2021 mid-year population estimates one would get an estimation of 3.95 million persons,” said Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke.

This includes migrants of all types and is collated regardless of legal status. By the same token, the UN-DESA migration estimates represent estimations of migrant stock and these too are based on Censuses and cover the total number of migrants regardless of legal status.

Stats SA has conducted three censuses since the inception of the democratic government in South Africa (1996, 2001 and 2011) with the next Census scheduled to take place in 2021. The number of those born outside SA were 958 188 in Census 1996, 1,03 million in Census 2011 and 2,2 million in Census 2011. It is important to note that the population census enumerates all persons within the borders of SA, irrespective of their citizenship, or migratory status.

The count also includes persons residing in institutions (e.g. old age homes, hostels, etc.,) as well as the homeless population. The census migration module asks the province/ country of birth, date moved to South Africa and country of citizenship. It does not ask about the documented status of an individual.

It is not the mandate of Stats SA to determine the documented/ undocumented status of persons born outside SA.


Risenga Maluleke


For media inquiries please contact: : Cell: 0764300693


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