Court Classique, Arcadia, Pretoria
Thursday 13 December 2012
Let me begin by expressing my appreciation to the National Press Club for hosting this media briefing. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to join us this morning.
I join President Jacob Zuma, and millions of people world wide, in extending my best wishes to our former President, Nelson Mandela, who is currently undergoing treatment at the No. 1 military Hospital in Pretoria. I look forward to his early release so that he can join his family for the festive season.
Since I was appointed in October this year, I have familiarised myself with DHA programmes and plans. I have visited several passport offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. I was impressed with what I saw and heard. The DHA has made progress. I am satisfied that plans are in place to improve efficiency through digital innovation so we are able to issue IDs and passports faster than before and as painlessly as possible. We are also making improvement in the permit units.
I intend to consolidate the gains made so far, while tackling the weaknesses and challenges the Department faces.
National Population Registration campaign
The DHA will continue to mobilise around the objectives of the National Population Registration campaign, launched in 2009, to register children within 30 days of birth, and to issue all 16-year-olds with IDs.
Registration of births within 30 days
Since 2009 there has been a steady increase in the number of children being registered at or soon after birth. Hospitals, clinics and some health-care centres are connected online to the DHA. Where they aren’t connected online, they use mobile connections. Stakeholder forums have been very helpful in entrenching the improvement of birth registration in all communities.
We will continue to do everything in our power to popularise the campaign. It is illegal not to register. In the near future, we will be introducing penalties for the failure to register. On New Year’s Day I will visit Hospitals in Cape Town where I will issue birth certificates to mothers of first babies born in 2013. Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan will visit maternity hospitals in Johannesburg where she will also issue birth certificates to mothers of the first babies born in 2013.
Mobilisation of 16-year-olds to apply for IDs
The DHA will continue with its campaign to mobilise 16-year-olds to apply for IDs. Officials have visited a number of schools around the country to encourage 16-year-olds to apply for an ID. In addition, we have set up an sms service for matriculants to apply for IDs.
We hope to extend this campaign to target 15- and 16-year-olds when schools reopen for the 2013 calender year
Smart ID card and modernisation programme
Earlier this year the DHA ran a Smart ID Card pilot. The smart ID card will replace the current green bar-coded ID. The pilot was a success and in the new year we will make an announcements on the implementation of the smart ID card project.
We are on track with our modernisation programme – the upgrading of IT infrastructure; live capture systems for IDs, passports, permits and visas; and the new National Population Register system.
According to our records there are 29,677 individuals with duplicate IDs. We published the list of 29,677 South Africans with duplicate IDs. We also commissioned TransUnion to track down the holders of duplicate IDs. We took this extraordinary step because if you have a duplicate ID you won’t be able to hold a bank account, access social grants, housing and other government services or enroll for further education and training. Yet few of those on the list have come forward to have their ID conflicts resolved. We will try again. Once we have made contact, we will invalidate the duplicate IDs, remove them from our National Population Register, and advise all banks and other relevant government institutions.
Unabridged birth certificates
From 2013 we will only issue unabridged certificates. The unabridged birth certificate will be issued on the spot, reducing the turn-around time currently experienced when applying for the abridged birth certificate. The unabridged certificate will be issued free of charge to all first time applicants.
South African Citizenship Amendment Act
Implementation of the South African Citizenship Amendment Act, 2010 (Act No. 17 of 2010). The South African Citizenship Amendment Act, 2010 will be implemented with effect from 1 January 2013 and its main objective, is, amongst others, the following:
- To amend acquisition of citizenship and provide that any person born of one of the parents being a South African citizen acquires citizenship by birth if born in or outside the Republic, which is a departure from the current Act which makes citizenship of a person born out of the Republic as citizenship by descent even though one of the parents is a South African. Citizenship by descent will now be for those children of different citizenship adopted by South African citizens.
- To amend, in order to make it clearer that any person who makes an application for naturalisation must have been ordinarily resident in the Republic for a continuous period of five years after having been granted permanent residence and such personwould now have to spend not more than 90 days out the Republic in a year.
Finally, it further introduces the principle of reciprocity regarding dual citizenship. This means that dual citizenship will only be permitted if the country of origin allows dual citizenship and if not allowed, the person will have to renounce such citizenship.
Training has already been conducted in all Provinces (except for one – Free State, which will be trained in due course) and the Department is ready to implement the new Amendment At with its Regulations. The Proclamation and the Regulations will be published in the Gazette in due course.
Refugee reception centres
We will locate refugee-reception centres on our borders. A feasibility study has been conducted and we are working with National Treasury and the Department of Public Works to procure office space. We do not intend to establish camps for refugees.
Lindela repatriation centre
At Lindela there is a transit facility from where we deport foreign nationals who are illegally in South Africa. Lindela is neither a centre for holding asylum seekers nor a detention centre. Over the past few weeks, the Human Rights Commission and other interested parties have brought a number of cases against the DHA for holding deportees at Lindela for longer than 120 days. Under section 34 of the Immigration Act (2002) no deportee can stay at Lindela for longer than 120 days.
We will monitor the number of days each illegal immigrant spends in the facility. The centre management will file reports with the DHA and where necessary escalate such cases to the Ministry to ensure early resolution.
Border management agency
Many countries have taken steps to ensure that there is an integrated and effective management of borders to prevent the traffic in illicit goods and the passage of illegal foreign nationals. At the moment, the following Departments are involved with border operations: the Departments of Defence, Home Affairs, State Security Agency, Agriculture, Health, Transport, South African Revenue Services, and South African Police Services. Each department plays a key role in ensuring the security of the country in terms of the movement of goods and people through our borders and ports of entry. All the functions currently performed by individual departments must be strengthened and coordinated as part of managing immigration securely and effectively.
A single authority is needed to ensure co-ordination. I look forward to the finalization of such a policy so we can deliver quality services to all those travelling across our borders and through our ports of entry.
Festive season and AFCON
We are ready both for the many visitors expected during the festive season and for the football fans coming to the African Cup of Nations. We have made special arrangements for the period from 13 December 2012 until 28 February 2013. There will be over 300 additional immigration officers at our busiest ports of entry and there will be extended opening hours as well.
As 2012 draws to a close, let me take this opportunity to wish all South Africans and foreign nationals who will be travelling through our ports of entry a safe festive season. We remain committed to facilitating your smooth transit through our ports of entry with our extended operating hours and additional staff.
If you drive to your various destinations to be with your families and loved ones, I urge you not to drink and drive. Let us all play our part in ensuring that we have a safe and enjoyable holiday