DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 12: Burning factory in
A burning factory in Durban on 12 July 2021. (Photo by Darren Stewart/Gallo Images via Getty Images)
  • Emigration consultants in South Africa saw a rush of enquiries from Indian people after the July unrest.
  • One, who specialises in moves to Canada, expects Indian clients to hit 40% of his total by the end of the year.
  • Female-headed households are looking to exit South Africa, as are many extended families with cash or businesses that can be relocated.
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Up to the middle of 2021, Beaver Canadian Immigration Consultants, a specialist in moves from South Africa to Canada, had a fairly predictable mix of clients: roughly half white, about 40% black, and the remaining 10% or so Indian.

By the end of this year, 40% of its clients will be Indian, says Beaver's Nicholas Avramis.

That is not a definitive leading indicator; not everyone who explores leaving South Africa goes through with it, and it will take a while for official numbers to catch up and confirm a mass exodus of Indians from South Africa, if it does happen.

"In terms of the official immigration stats, only time will tell as immigration – especially business immigration – takes about a 6 to 12 months to process," says Avramis.

Part of the typical process involves liquidating assets such as property, which can take a while. But, in this case, many potential emigrants appear to be waiting on insurance payouts too.

The surge in interest from Indians started almost as soon as looting started in KwaZulu-Natal in July, immigration consultants agree. During the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, many businesses – many of them with Indian owners - were destroyed. Racial tensions in Phoenix and surrounds kept the interest going, with spikes during such events as the EFF march against "racist Indians" in Phoenix.

The number of enquiries, and the extent to which interest was maintained in the months since, differs. Those who specialise in moves to places such as the United Kingdom and Australia say they can barely keep up, but consultants for countries in mainland Europe saw what one termed a "minor explosion", followed by a slight increase in clients determined to leave South Africa.

"We believe there is still a huge, huge level of interest in getting out of the country," says Robbie Ragless, managing director of New World Immigration.

This month may present an opportunity to see just how huge. An emigration expo is due to be held in Umhlanga on 22 and 23 October, and specialist providers are gearing up for what they believe may be a record number of visitors.

"We're pretty sure many are packing their boxes," said one such consultant of the Indian community in Durban.

As with their white and black peers, potential Indian immigrants range in age and in wealth, and include both professionals and business owners, emigration consultants say.

One difference that stands out is the number of female-headed households looking for an exit, and the number of large family groups that have either the ready cash to set up in another country, or active businesses that can be relocated.

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