Apr 24, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

SAA ‘knew’ its consultants were violating immigration laws

SAA ‘knew’ its consultants were violating immigration laws
National 22.4.2017 – The Citizen
New York-based consultants allegedly worked without the right paperwork, and Malusi Gigaba allegedly failed to respond to the issue.
A New-York-based aviation consulting firm, awarded a six-month contract for $4.5 million (R59.1 million) by South African Airways (SAA), allegedly violated the Immigration Act by allowing its team to work in the country on tourism visas.
Seabury Aviation Consulting, now part of Accenture, has since March stationed about seven staffers at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg without work permits. Yet the department of home affairs has taken no action against them.
Seabury started its work at SAA in January and the contract expires in June.
A document seen by The Citizen shows that Seabury’s vice-chairperson, Michael B Cox, executive director Michael Mason, associate consultants Christopher Jacobi and Abby Nutting, consultants Queenie Chan and Erin Jakupciak and associate Justas Gumbrevicius are among those accused by the SA Transport & Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) of working in South Africa on visitors’ permits.
An SAA internal memorandum leaked to The Citizen, titled Immigration Law Implication, dated March 3, shows that acting CEO Musa Zwane confirmed to the board that only one team member from Seabury has the requisite “short-term work permit”, which, according to Section 11 (2), allows foreign nationals to engage in substantive work.
The memorandum stated that several members of Seabury have ordinary tourism or vacation visas, which only allow for attendance of meetings or conferences and not execution of any substantive work.
“From information available and provided to SAA, it appears that the consultants have section 11 (1) permits, which does not allow any person to conduct any substantive work and in special circumstances be used to attend meetings or conferences, but is intended or issued for ordinary visitors.
“In this instance their continued work for SAA, albeit on behalf of the consultant, is in contravention of South African immigration laws,” reads the SAA internal memorandum.
The memorandum adds: “SAA is deemed an employer and bears the liability in the event of a contravention of the Immigration Act.”
The internal memorandum was circulated a few hours after Satawu accused the airline in writing of violating the Immigration Act.
Satawu addressed the letter to Zwane, general manager of human resources Mbongeni Manqele, and copied it to SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni and the then minister of home affairs, Malusi Gigaba.
Satawu said Gigaba did not respond to them or address the issue.
A Cape Town law firm specialising in immigration services says it is a criminal offence to employ anyone who does not have a work visa. Prosecution and conviction of such a criminal act could result in a fine or a prison term of no less than five years.
SAA acknowledged in its internal memorandum that it was violating immigration laws, and informed the union the matter would be investigated.
In its letter, Satawu demanded to know why Seabury workers were being allowed access to SAA premises without work permits.
Satawu national sector coordinator for aviation Matthew Ramosie said it “clearly undermines the laws of this country, which includes among others labour laws”.
“Our understanding is that before these individuals can work in this country, a work permit application is supposed to be done in our embassy in the US.
“Satawu is greatly concerned and seeks your intervention in making sure that these individuals’ employment is terminated with immediate effect until they have work permits.”
After Satawu’s intervention, SAA’s legal adviser recommended these workers return to their home country immediately.
SAA then recommended that they obtain a work permit in their home country prior to coming to South Africa to execute the contract.
SAA also said it would send a formal notification to Seabury, but the airline would “exercise and reserve its legal and contractual rights in so far as this contravention amounts to a breach of terms and conditions of its contract with the consultant”.
In response to The Citizen inquiry, SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali said they were not aware of any member of the Seabury team who was deported by home affairs in 2008 or recently for non-compliance.
Asked how many Seabury workers were stationed at OR Tambo, Tlali said, “Seabury operates in accordance with its own business model on assignments it undertakes. As such, SAA neither controls the allocation nor movement of resources during the assignment.”
Tlali added: “When we became aware that a number of Seabury consultants seconded to SAA were not in full compliance with South African immigration laws in that some were not in possession of required short work authorisation permits, SAA demanded from Seabury to comply with immediate effect. The airline, however, continued with the services offered by the consultants, albeit with a smaller team whilst the outstanding compliance issues received attention. Those issues were subsequently resolved.”
The Citizen also presented SAA and Seabury with the names of the employees who are accused of working without proper documents, requesting them to confirm, but they did not.
Phoned for comment, Accenture’s executive support analyst in New York, Kisha Henry, informed The Citizen several times that she had referred the publication’s media enquiry to Accenture corporate, Stacey Jones. Several enquiries were also sent directly to Jones, instead, a South African-based Accenture employee, Jonathan Mahapa, contacted The Citizen alleging Seabury sent the response to SAA. He said SAA would respond on their behalf, but refused to be quoted.
However, Tlali said: “I don’t speak on behalf of Seabury. I am aware you have sent questions to them. We do not speak on behalf of any service providers.”
Later, Seabury told The Citizen that all their workers had valid permits or South African citizenship.
Tlali said Seabury was contracted for an all-inclusive total amount of $4.5 million and alleged the airline was not responsible for any other costs related to this project. He said the contract was from January and ended in June.
“The appointment of Seabury consultants followed a multiple source bidding process, which is provided for in our Global Supply Management Policy (GSM Policy). Out of six potential bidders, to whom the tender was issued, and a thorough evaluation process undertaken, Seabury Corporate Advisors emerged as a preferred bidder and was appointed in line with the delegated approval authority,” said Tlali.
Kruger was shocked that SAA was paying Seabury R59 million yet their employees did not have proper work permits. She said in most cases employees would employ illegal immigrants at a lower cost and not pay them lots of money.
Home affairs spokesperson Thabo Mokgola said he would ask former Gigaba whether he received a memo from Satawu and comment thereafter. The Citizen forwarded Satawu’s memo to Mokgola, but no response was received from him at the time of going to print.
In terms of Seabury’s team failure to comply, Mokgola said he could comment without The Citizen’s submission of their passport numbers to the department.
Satawu informed The Citizen that the non-compliant workers were rotated with others, who also did not have proper work permits.
“Depending on the duration of their visitors’ permits, a team that does not have work permits will be allowed to work for a week or two at SAA premises.
“The same team will go back to their home country and then be replaced by another team that does not have work permits,” said Ramosie.
South African Cabin Crew Association treasurer Gift Bilankulu and general secretary Mpho Moikangoa said Seabury’s credibility was questionable.
They alleged there had been the same scenario in 2008.
Bilankulu said: “We want to know why the department of home affairs and SAA even allowed them to come back and work in South Africa without proper documentation.
“How can home affairs allow people who were working illegally to come back again?
“Even if they now followed the proper procedures, they were guilty so they can’t be allowed to come back without penalising them.
“We want to know what happened.”

Apr 24, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Home Affairs will appeal decision to allow DRC ‘prophet’ asylum in SA

18 April 2017 – Business Day
The Department of Home Affairs is fighting to keep self-proclaimed prophet Paul Joseph Mukungubila out of SA.
Responding on Tuesday to news reports that the Congolese pastor had obtained asylum‚ Home Affairs said it was appealing against a decision by the High Court in Johannesburg to allow Mukungubila to apply for asylum.
According to reports‚ Mukungubila first arrived in SA from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in March 2014 after allegedly orchestrating a spate of attacks in December 2013 on the airport and the main army headquarters in Kinshasa‚ the capital.
In a statement‚ the department said Mukungubila had applied for asylum but his application was rejected after the justice minister issued a notification for the pastor to be extradited to stand trial in his homeland.
“The DRC had made allegations of gross human rights violations against Mukungubila and‚ as a consequence‚ requested Interpol to facilitate his extradition to the DRC‚” the statement read.
But in March, the high court ruled that the department should allow Mukungubila to apply for asylum and halt extradition proceedings “pending finalisation of his asylum application”.
The department filed for leave to appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeal.
“This application (for leave to appeal) has the effect of staying the judgment of the high court‚ pending its finalisation. In essence‚ this means that Paul Joseph Mukungubila‚ a DRC national‚ does not have status in SA.”
According to the department‚ Mukungubila claimed he was regarded by the followers of his faith as a “man of God who possesses revelatory powers about the future of the nation”.
His organisation‚ the Ministry for the Restoration from Black Africa‚ is said to consist of 1‚200 members in the DRC.
He is also is wanted for questioning “about violence that left more than 100 people dead”.
Earlier, Reuters quoted Mukungubila’s spokesperson, Charlie Mingiedi, saying the pastor had been awarded asylum in SA on March 30.
“There is no return to [the DRC] but he will continue to mobilise the Congolese people against the dictatorship ruling the country‚” his spokesman said.

Apr 21, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Cabinet reshuffle could clear the obstacles to border agency

Cabinet reshuffle could clear the obstacles to border agency
Customs and excise collection at the centre of a row between home affairs and the finance ministry
21 April 2017 – Business Day

The Border Management Agency could soon assume all functions of border control and customs and excise collection, courtesy of President Jacob Zuma’s recent cabinet reshuffle.
The issue of customs and excise collection was the subject of a dispute between the home affairs ministry and finance ministry, with the latter wanting the function to remain under the South African Revenue Service (SARS). The Treasury imposed a staff ceiling on government departments in the medium term, hampering efforts by the Department of Home Affairs to set up the agency.
When former finance minister Pravin Gordhan was at the helm of the Treasury, the department’s expenditure ceiling for employee compensation was pegged at R3.146bn in 2016-17, R3.233bn in 2017-18 and R3.328bn in 2018-19.
The cabinet reshuffle has resulted in the former home affairs minister and a key proponent of the agency, Malusi Gigaba, taking over the finance ministry. He was replaced at the Department of Home Affairs by Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, who told Business Day on Thursday that she hoped Gigaba’s appointment would lead to a softening of the Treasury’s stance on these issues. So tense was the stand-off over the customs collection function of SARS at borders that former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas wrote a letter to Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs, insisting that customs and revenue-collection should remain the function of SARS after the agency was established.
Mkhize told Business Day that before her first consultation with director-general Mkuseli Apleni, she met Gigaba, who stressed the importance of finalising the alignment of all functions at ports of entry to an authority under home affairs, in line with the Border Management Authority Bill.
“We must have a clear line of authority around border management as home affairs. He seemed very committed to its establishment and said we will talk in our next meeting.
“Cabinet is clear on the vision of how to strengthen this authority,” said Mkhize.
Treasury spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete confirmed that the two departments were in talks over the agency and that an announcement would be made on the matter in due course.
Kathryn Hoeflich from migrant welfare organisation Scalabrini Centre said hiring more staff at home affairs to manage migration was a good way to spend some state resources. “Hiring qualified workers to resolve backlogs or address complex issues would be less costly and a better deterrent for illegal migrants than building detention centres or buying guns for border guards,” said Hoeflich.
Independent analyst David Peddle said the establishment of the Border Management Agency appeared to be the result of efforts as far back as 1994 “to effectively take over the border environment and order budgets of the borderline departments”.
He said the first plans to do this came from former home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and were met with “great uproar”.

Apr 21, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Refugee Amendment Bill “restricts and excludes” says attorney William Kerfoot Panelists call for better implementation by Home Affairs

Refugee Amendment Bill “restricts and excludes” says attorney William Kerfoot
Panelists call for better implementation by Home Affairs
21 April 2017 – Groundup
The proposed changes to the Refugees Amendment Bill “restricts and excludes” those seeking to work and study, according to William Kerfoot, an attorney at the Legal Resource Centre.
Kerfoot was speaking at a panel discussion in Cape Town on Thursday on section B12-2016 of the Bill and what its implementation would mean for asylum seekers and foreign nationals in South Africa. The event was chaired by the Enhanced Civic Understanding and Engagement Project and sponsored by the European Union.
The new proposed amendments to the Bill were tabled in Parliament in September 2016 and was opened for public comment. The Bill seeks to implement amendments to the Refugees Act of 1998.
Kerfoot said that the proposed amendments to the Bill included widespread exclusions of those seeking refugee status based on criminal records in their home countries.
Panellists highlighted problematic subcategories which they say will have an effect on children’s basic education, the “problematic” definition of a dependent according to the Bill. They also said the amendment requiring asylum seekers to apply for status within five days of arrival in the country “places unreasonable burden” on people who may not have the funds to reach an asylum centre in that period.
“If refugee status determination officers were properly trained, there would not be all the problems with backlogging. These officers have the power of life and death over asylum seekers,” said Kerfoot.
He said this policy will create situations in which those waiting to receive refugee or asylum status would be unable to work, study, or send their children to school because school officials “are often afraid of being fined for enrolling undocumented children.”
Popo Mfubu from the UCT Refugee Rights Clinic said that the Refugees Act in its current form was a progressive and liberal piece of legislation, but that its implementation was challenging.
“It has broadened the scope of people who can automatically be excluded from refugee or asylum status,” he said.
In Cape Town, asylum seekers often wait all night for their asylum permits to be renewed without success.
“There is an ongoing lack of capacity in the Department of Home Affairs,” said Bea Abrahams, ECEU Project Coordinator of the Cape Town Refugee Centre and facilitator of the discussion.
Panelists also noted concerns around management at Home Affairs offices saying “finance and administrative convenience” often trumped human rights.
Participants also discussed plans to submit their to the National Assembly in Parliament.

Apr 19, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Children born in SA do not automatically qualify for citizenship

Children born in SA do not automatically qualify for citizenship
IOL – 10 April 2017
Cape Town – The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is to review why children born in South Africa to foreign parents are not automatically awarded citizenship by the Department of Home Affairs.
Advocate Priscilla Jana, deputy chairperson of the SAHRC, said she been unaware that unabridged birth certificates were not issued to children born to foreign parents. “We will look into this matter,” she said.
Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Thabo Mokgola said the department’s policy was that “for record purposes a notice of birth” would be issued instead.
The Human Rights Commission will review why children born locally to foreign parents are not automatically awarded citizenship by Home Affairs. File picture: Independent Media
Cape Town attorney Joy van der Heyde said she had filed nine notices against Home Affairs in the Western Cape High Court. They related to the department’s alleged refusal to issue unabridged birth certificates to foreign parents.
In another matter, Van der Heyde accused the department of failing to issue an unabridged birth certificate to a refugee whose daughter was born in the country.
“The assumption that if a child is born in this country, they automatically get citizenship, irrespective of whether their parents are foreign or not, is false,” she said.
“A notice of birth is issued by the hospital, this is not an identity document on which the child can be registered at school or obtain social grants. This notice, therefore, does not assist the child in being able to enforce his or her rights,” Van der Heyde pointed out.
Said Mokgola: “In cases where one parent is South African, the South African citizen may apply for the child’s birth certificate”. But Van der Heyde said that was also problematic because “the name of child’s South African parent would be reflected on the unabridged birth certificate, but not the foreign parent’s name”.
In one case, Van der Heyde said, a child was in ICU and required a series of operations. “Her foreign parent has a paid-up foreign medical aid that has to bear the costs but because the child does not have an unabridged birth certificate reflecting the foreign parent’s name, which the medical aid requires, the costs cannot be paid.”
“Also, this means that the foreign parent cannot travel in and out of the country with their own child, because their name will not be on the unabridged birth certificate. There are cases where the high court ruled that this is unacceptable.”
Van der Heyde said it was “sad that there are three million adoptable children in the welfare system”, many of whom are foreign children whom prospective foreign adoptive parents are willing to adopt and who end up staying in the system because they don’t have unabridged birth certificates.
“They don’t have a name, identity number or a country of origin. That means we have this quota of children in the adoption system, in the social welfare system who can’t be taken care of properly by parents who want to adopt them.”
“Without an unabridged birth certificate, everything is affected – from accessing medical assistance and social grants to schooling.”
Esther Lewis, spokesperson for the Western Cape Department of Social Development, said they assist all children in need of care and protection, and the child’s best interests will always be taken into consideration. And all children must have birth certificates.
Without birth certificates, the adoption process for any child, whether South African or a child born here of foreign parents, can’t be finalised, Lewis explained.
“It is standard practice to issue foreign children born in South Africa with handwritten birth certificates from the Department of Home Affairs.”

Apr 19, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

DRC ‘prophet’ wants SA court’s help to avoid murder rap

DRC ‘prophet’ wants SA court’s help to avoid murder rap
Pretotia News – | 10 April 2017

Pretoria – A political and religious leader from the DRC turned to court for help after Home Affairs threatened to deport him back to his country to face a murder count and other related charges.
Paul Mukungubila said he fled the DRC because his life was in danger and if he had to return, he would suffer harm and an unfair trial.
He told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that he had 18 wives, five of whom stayed in South Africa and 19 children – 12 of whom live here.
He said he left the DRC in 2014 because of persecution and threats by the authorities of the DRC.
His organisation is called the Ministry for the Restoration from Black Africa.
He said he was regarded by his flock as a prophet and a man of God who possessed revelatory powers about the future of the nation.
The 70-year-old received asylum status when he arrived in South Africa, but it has lapsed.
Home Affairs refused his application to have it renewed and the Refugee Appeal Board dismissed his appeal without hearing his side of the story.
Justice Minister Michael Masutha received notification that he had to be extradited to the DRC to face criminal charges in that country.
According to Interpol, the attorney-general in the DRC insisted that he be prosecuted, and for this reason his asylum application was rejected.
Mukungubila said the Refugee Status Determination Board simply refused his refugee status on the face of him having to face charges, without determining whether the charges were politically motivated.
It turned down his appeal before he even presented his case, he said.
Instead, it signed an order that he had to return to the DRC and declared him to be an illegal foreigner in South Africa.
He denied responsibility for any of the charges he is supposed to face and said he was involved in peaceful demonstration in the DRC.
According to him he had been a victim of the government of Joseph Kabila on numerous occasions.
He stated that during 2006 when he contested the presidential election, he was also “set upon by commandos send by Kabila”.
Judge MJ Maluleke said in terms of the South African constitution all persons had the right to present their case before any forum that was established by law.
He thus had the right to appeal against his refugee status and to be heard before his application could be turned down.
“This is a classic case of putting the proverbial cart before the horse,” the judge said. He questioned how an appeal can be turned down, without the appeal even having been heard.
He said that based on Mukungubila’s affidavit, it was clear he would be subjected to persecution on account of his religion and political opinion if he had to return to the DRC. The judge also said that Home Affairs never refuted that this would be the case.
The judge said Mukungubila did everything by the book to try to explain his situation to the authorities, but his pleas fell on deaf ears or were simply not entertained.
He said it was in fact against the law for Home Affairs not to consider his appeal at all.
The judge ordered that Mukungubila may not be deported until his appeal had been heard and determined. He also declared that in future nobody’s refugee status may depend on the fact that there were extradition proceedings against him or her.
The judge said refugee status should be independent from extradition proceedings.
Pretoria News

Apr 19, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Asylum seekers’ desperate wait at Home Affairs office

Asylum seekers’ desperate wait at Home Affairs office
Applicants wait for weeks for papers to be renewed
10 April 2017 – Groundup
Every day, dozens of asylum seekers queue outside the regional Home Affairs office at Customs House in Cape Town to get their temporary permits renewed. Most of them are unsuccessful.
The Home Affairs branch only services applications for asylum status. The site is marked by high fencing topped with barbed wire, forcing applicants to queue just off the premises under a lifted section of the N2. There are no restrooms. Vendors have set up shop selling warm drinks and food to applicants who will wait all day.
When GroundUp visited the site last Thursday, dozens of people were queuing.
“You stand in a queue from five o’clock and after standing in a queue they open around eight,” Pierre*, a 37-year-old Congolese refugee, told GroundUp. He had visited Home Affairs twice in the past week with no success. “After opening at eight o’clock they take papers, they don’t care who came first or who came last and then they go inside.”
Refugees say Home Affairs personnel take the temporary permits of everyone in the queue but then call only five to ten applicants into Customs House over the course of the whole day. The overwhelming majority must wait outside the building until the late afternoon when the department’s workers re-emerge to return their documents with no decision, often citing “missing files.”
Those who leave without new permits are not given any document to show that they applied. Yet without the extension of their permits, asylum seekers are technically in South Africa illegally and risk deportation.
All the refugees GroundUp spoke to on Thursday had renewed their permits at the Customs House facility in Cape Town in the past and did not understand the delays.
“They are looking for our files from morning to evening, but everything is in the system,” said Barbara*, a 32-year-old Zimbabwean refugee. “Why do they still want a file? Even when they get the file, when they want to renew your paper they will just take your old paper and say, ‘put your finger here.’ Once I put my finger down everything will show, all my information is in the system.“
“I am illegal,” said Michel*, a 39-year-old Congolese refugee who had been returning to the Customs House facility for over a month. “If I get caught by police I am going to get locked up, and if I get locked up I am going to present my document and they are going to say, ‘well, it’s been expired for the last five weeks.’”
Refugees may also lose their rights to education, healthcare and employment once their papers expire. Their bank accounts may be frozen.
“When you go to the clinic, they ask you where your papers are and they check the date and see it is expired,” said Ahmed*, a 29-year-old Somali refugee who has been in South Africa for six years. “They can’t help you because you don’t have proper papers.”
Marie*, a 33-year-old Congolese refugee whose papers had been expired for nearly five weeks, said this was affecting the care of her four-year-old, diabetic son. She had been forced to take out two loans to pay rent and buy sugar-free food and insulin for her son.
“All we ask is for our papers to be renewed so that we can go look for a job,” she said.
Marie said Home Affairs representatives had returned her papers with no updates again at the end of the day on Thursday. Without explanation, they told her to return on 11 April to try again.
She likened the bureaucratic process at Home Affairs to her former home in the south of the Democratic Republic of Congo. “It’s like I’m just in the same situation.”
“If there was peace and stability back home, there would be no point in us being here,” said Michel. “I fled from persecution, but some days I feel like I would be better back home.”
Thabo Mokgola, a Home Affairs spokesperson, denied that rate of processing was as slow as claimed. He said that the number of asylum seekers made it impossible for them all to be accommodated in the building at the same time. He also said issues regarding the filing of asylum seekers’ information had been “noted” and that measures were “in place to resolve the issue in due course”. He invited applicants “experiencing challenges” to “escalate the matter” with Home Affairs staff.