There are two categories of “Visa” granting the stay in South Africa: Temporary Residence Visa and Permanent Residence Permits. As the names already indicate, the Temporary Residence Visa allow to stay for a limited time only, while the Permanent Residence Permits allow the permanent stay without any expiry date.
Except in the case of Financially Independence, a Visa for temporary residence will have to be applied for first, before any Permanent Residence Permit may be obtained.
The pages to the right deal with all types of Temporary Residence Visa.
For Visa without expiry date, please see “Permanent Residence”