Legally a person cannot volunteer in South Africa on a tourist visa. A volunteer visa is needed for any person wishing to come to South Africa to volunteer - whether it is for 3 days, three years or anything in between!
A volunteer visa can be granted for a period for a maximum period of three years, if an applicant can show that they have the financial ability to maintain themselves for that period of time (as volunteers are unpaid or receive a minimum stipend for their services - but never a pay check).
In order to qualify for a volunteer visa an applicant must affiliate themselves with either a Non-Government Organization (NGO) or a Non-Profit Organization (NPO). It is not possible to volunteer for a company, sole trader or any other type of business entity. The NGO/NPO will need to motivate their need for the applicant in their organization and set out the responsibilities the applicant will have whilst with their organization.
As with any long-term visa, the initial application must be done from the applicant's home country or country of residency, unless they are in South Africa already on another long-term visa (such as work, retirement or spouse).
At JLIA, we have extensive experience with assisting applicants successfully obtain volunteer visas and can assist with guiding an applicant through the process from beginning to end. If you would like more information on volunteer visas, contact us for an initial assessment.