Adcorp estimating that 359’000 South Africans have returned from abroad over the past five years.

Western Cape-based immigration lawyer Gary Eisenberg finds Adcorp’s number of 359000 returnees “troubling and misleading” because it includes those who have lost their jobs as a result of the global financial crisis and been frozen out of faltering economies, including thousands of SA professionals on short-term contracts in Dubai who returned after the collapse of its building boom in 2008.

“South Africans are not returning in droves,” he says. “Only a very small fraction of those who emigrated are returning and in my experience none of them are bringing their capital back with them.”

They aren’t necessarily coming back forever, either, but rather because it suits them for tax reasons to be out of countries like the US or the UK for a few years, he says. Most rare, in Eisenberg’s experience, is the type of emigrant that SA most needs – young adults with special skills and the financial capital to invest in the SA economy.

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