Archive from May, 2015
May 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Department of Home Affairs is openly xenophobic.

26 May 2015, 07:30
Department of Home Affairs is openly xenophobic.
I am a South African citizen but emigrated to the U.K. for business reasons in 2002 and lived there for 8 years. I met and married a U.K. citizen and we decided to return to South Arica in 2010, partly influenced by the “Homecoming Revolution”.
I have 2 step-children. Both are U.K. citizens and have been in S.A. on a student’s permit since 2010. My wife and I have 2 children of our own. One is a U.K. citizen (we have applied for S.A. citizenship for him) and the other was born in S.A. and is a South African citizen.
My wife and step-children and one of my sons are in danger of being deported due to the fact that their visas/permits have elapsed. The details are set out below and indicate that there are some serious problems within the new system implemented by DHA via VFS.
We have previously applied for and been granted permits/visas on two occasions, via Bellville DHA.
My wife again went to Home Affairs in Bellville in January 2015, 3 months before her most recent visa was due to expire on 27th March 2015 with the intention of applying for renewal of her relative’s visa and her children’s study visas. The staff there advised her that they no longer take visa applications and that she must apply through the agency VFS in Cape Town.
She immediately applied for an appointment at VFS. The earliest appointment she could get was 6 weeks later, on the 16th March 2015. This was only 12 days before her visa was due to expire.
When she arrived at VFS for her application appointment she was advised that they could not accept her application as she did not have the required police clearance certificates. She had applied for a South African police clearance but had not yet received it. Previously when she have applied for her visa at Home Affairs, Bellville they have allowed her to submit her application without the police clearance certificates on the basis that she submit them later when they come through. VFS would not allow this although this had been the practice at DHA before.
The staff member she spoke to also insisted she had to get an up to date police clearance certificate from the U.K. even though she have not been there in three years and had police clearance certificates dating back to only two years ago. She had not been in the UK since then and could not have committed any crimes there.
The information given was clearly incorrect – VFS website clearly states that “the certificate shall not be required from a foreign country in the case of renewal or extension of a visa”.
She advised the staff member at VFS that her visa was due to expire on 27th March and that by the time she had waited for police clearance certificates from the UK her visa would have expired. The VFS representative assured my wife this would not be a problem and that she could just come back with her appointment letter, once her police clearance certificates came through. The appointment letter would apparently be sufficient to prove that an attempt was made to apply before the visas expired.
My wife’s South African police clearance came through one week later, so still in time for her to apply for visa renewal before the visas expired.
My wife had to wait 6 weeks for her police clearance to come from the UK, by which time her visa, and those of my step-children, had expired.
My wife then went on Thursday 30th April 2015 with her U.K. police clearance to VFS to apply to renew her relative’s visa, together with those of our step-children. She had to take the children out of school to accompany her as VFS require the children to be there in person. They refused to accept her application on the basis that her current visa expired on 27th March 2015.
This was despite the fact that the previous staff member, when she visited on 16th March, assured my wife that this would not be a problem as long as she had her original appointment letter showing she had tried to apply for renewal before her visa had expired.
The staff at VFS advised her that before she can apply for renewal of her visa she must go to Home Affairs and get legalized with a form 20 and that she must explain why she had not applied for renewal before the visas expired.
She was also advised on Thursday 30th April 2015 that she DID NOT actually need the UK police clearance that she had previously been told was required! She had not had to wait 6 weeks for the UK police clearance and she would have been able to apply for renewal before her visa expired.
My wife has been trying for three months to apply for renewal of visas for herself, my son and my step-children but has been stopped from doing so due to long waits for appointments and the wrong and contradictory information being given by staff at VFS.
My wife went on 04th May 2015 to Home Affairs in Barrack Street to apply for legalization through a form 20 bridging visa. They have taken in her application but this may now take months before she can even get the result of this application as to whether she will be given legalization. They may still tell her she may have to go back to the UK and apply from there for the visas. My wife, my children, my step-children and I are in limbo. My wife, my one son, and my step-children currently have no status in South Africa and we may not know for months whether they can stay.
Further, my step-children are court ordered to travel overseas to the U.K. to visit their father at the end of June during the school holidays and will not be allowed to re-enter S.A. without valid visas. If the children do not go, my wife will be in contempt of a court order and may face imprisonment or a fine. If they do go, we risk them not being allowed to return to South Africa.
It is only natural that changes in any system can lead to problems but it is also important that those problems do not infringe the rights of citizens and residents. The results for my family will be catastrophic if this is not addressed. I will have to stay in South Africa with my two year old son while his mother, my other son and my step-children will be deported. This cannot be correct, fair or in anyone’s best interests.
Two weeks ago we were informed by my 14 year old stepson’s high school that he will no longer be allowed to attend the school as he no longer has a valid study permit. Aside from the obvious negative impact this will have upon his education coming up to the exams in 3 weeks time, this is a blatant infringement of his Constitutional rights.
This was reported to DHA and we received a flurry of emails claiming the matter was being “expedited” but nothing tangible has happened.
There is NO EXCUSE for the way my family and I are being treated and there is absolutely no effort being made to address our situation, despite the platitudes offered.
The case officer, Ms Adonisi, has been impossibly difficult from the beginning and when I spoke to her directly 2 weeks ago she told me my wife and family were illegally in the country and my wife would have to go to Court and may even be deported. I have no faith in this case officer – she has been negative and hostile from the beginning, has clearly made up her mind already and I have asked for her to be removed with immediate effect. She cannot exercise an administrative discretion in these circumstances.
Further, I have been informed that my wife and I need to prove that we “co-habit” by receiving a home visit from DHA at some unspecified time. This is insane!!!
My wife and I do not need to prove co-habitation as we are actually married. We got married in 2009. We have provided a marriage certificate to DHA years ago. We have 2 children together and I am also responsible for my two step-children. Even more pertinent though is the fact that we did, in fact, have an interview to prove our relationship/co-habitation (whatever you call it) some two years ago with an officer from DHA at Barrack Street. My heavily pregnant wife and I travelled a few times to Bellville and then to Barrack Street and then finally were interviewed by an officer there, who expressed himself satisfied and issued the necessary paperwork.
Now we apparently have to ONCE AGAIN prove that we are co-habiting??? This is not only insulting and degrading but quite unnecessary. I am embarrassed, ashamed and extremely upset at the pathetic treatment meted out to my family and myself. I returned to SA from UK with my UK wife and family, to start our life anew in the country of my birth. All I have been asked I have done –I have never asked for, nor do I expect, special treatment. I simply expect proper, decent and humane treatment – and I am not receiving this.
My wife is court-ordered to send her children (my step-children) to the UK in June. If she does not do so she will be in contempt of court. If she does so without the correct visas she and my children and step-children will not be allowed back into the country. So my wife faces two stark and equally horrific choices: face imprisonment for contempt of court in South Africa or face being denied entrance to South Africa and the rest of her family on her return.
The recent xenophobic attacks were horrific but are unsurprising given the open and institutionalized xenophobia practiced by this government’s departments, especially the DHA. They constantly change their rules and procedures, with little or no warning or announcements. They provide little or no information on their websites and, often, the information is outdated or incorrect. They do not make forms available online, so you actually have to queue for a form BEFORE you even get in the queue for the application. I feel sorry for the staff – most are hard-working and attempt to help but the circumstances they work in are deplorable. They have implemented a flawed and expensive system via VFS but take no responsibility for its failings. We are informed that there are about 40 (FORTY!!) people in the same boat as us. This is unbelievable. Where will it end?

May 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

New SA visa regulations have airlines in a frenzy

26 may 2015 – EWN
Virgin Atlantic expects to have to turn passengers away when the new rules come into effect next week.
JOHANNESBURG – International airline Virgin Atlantic says it expects to have to turn some foreign passengers away at airports when new regulations come in on Monday, and that airlines are going to suffer financially as a result.

From next week, people travelling in and out of South Africa will be required to have unabridged birth certificates for the children travelling with them, and to have affidavits from parents if they’re not with the children.

The travel industry has strongly criticised the plans, but Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has promised they will be implemented this time around.

Virgin Atlantic country manager Liezl Gericke says they’re still battling to explain these rules to international markets.

“In the first instance, it’s absolute shock and horror. There is no country in the world that is going to implement this particular process.”

And she says the full rules were only published last week.

“Much to our dismay, subsequently, the standard operation procedures have already been altered three times. It makes it incredibly difficult for us to inform and educate.”

Gericke says that in the end, people will be stopped from entering.

“Come 1 June, we will be in a position that we are likely to turn passengers away who don’t have the correct documentation on hand.”

The airline says it’s still being met with shock and horror when trying to explain the regulations.

But the Home Affairs Department says these restrictions will stop human trafficking and make South Africa safer.

Meanwhile, the airline industry as a whole, says Home Affairs has placed the onus on them to communicate with travellers and that they’re the ones who will lose money.

Acting head of the Board of Airline Representatives South Africa (Barsa), Carla da Silva, says they’re going to be the ones carrying the cost.

“The airline could be fined. They’ve assured us that airlines won’t be fined, but I can assure you that they will be. And then of course you have to put the passenger up in a hotel and fly them the next day.”

Home Affairs is however adamant the new requirements will come into force on Monday.

May 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Gigaba firm on new visa rules

Sat, 23 May 2015 – EWN
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says he will not go back on a decision to implement new visa requirements next week.

Concerns have been raised about a requirement that demands children carry unabridged certificate when they travel to and from South Africa.

Parents say this will delay their travels and that the department is generally slow to issue unabridged certificates.

Home Affairs has already begun the process by converting over half a million abridged birth certificates.

Responding to how this may impact tourism, Gigaba says his priority is the safety of children.

“South Africa should not accept that they are children who arrive in this country without being properly identified if they are travelling with anyone but their parents. There is a lot of crime and South Africa should never relent in protecting children.”

Gigaba defends ‘Operation Fiela’

The minister told Eyewitness News last week that “Operation Fiela” is about the state re-organising life in areas that are ridden with crime and police have acted on information around arms caches and drug dens.

The government came under fire for the operation with some saying it compares foreigners to “rubbish”.

Illegal immigrants were arrested during raids by the police service, South African National Defence Force and officials from the Department of Home Affairs in the Johannesburg CBD.

The raids also included the Central Methodist Church and came under sharp criticism from non-government organisation Right2Know, which has described the raids as state “co-ordinated xenophobia”.

The raids form part “Operation Fiela” which government said is aimed at ridding the country of illegal guns, drugs and prostitution rings.

Gigaba argued that “Operation Fiela” will also target hijacked buildings.

So far, more than 700 people have been arrested during various raids, and this has drawn criticism from a number of NGOs.

May 28, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Improved visa and permit centre for executives launched

20 May, 2015 Times Live
Senior corporate executives seeking to make visa and permit applications will no longer have to visit the usual Home Affairs branches in Johannesburg‚ after a ‘premium’ visa and permit centre was launched by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba in Sandton today.
The application process at the centre takes about ten minutes and thereafter the applicant will wait for about four months to get the visa or permit as opposed to the initial eight months‚ according to the department‚ SANews.gov.za reports.
Prior to visiting the centre‚ applicants can make an appointment online. Most of the application process is done electronically‚ including payment.
The biometrics and applications are approved at the department’s Head Office in Pretoria. The premium one-stop-shop for visa and permit renewals comes as a result of a partnership between the department and VFS Global and the Gauteng Provincial government’s Gauteng Growth and Development Agency to facilitate increased investment into South Africa.
The centre is expected to alleviate the pressure of visa applications management for senior executives of companies who are holders of temporary residence visas as well as other foreign employees within these corporates. – SANews.gov.za

May 25, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Gigaba: Home Affairs will not go back on visa rules for children

25 May 2015 – Traveller 24
Cape Town – Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has said the Department of Home Affairs will not go back on a decision to implement new visa requirements, set to come into effect on 1 June 2015.
iAfrica reports home affairs has begun the process by converting over half a million abridged birth certificates.
Various stakeholders within the travel and tourism industry have expressed concern about the effect the new visa regulations, which requires all parents entering South Africa to provide an unabridged birth certificate of all travelling children, detailing the child’s father and mother. This applies even when both parents are travelling with their children.
According to the report, Gigaba says his priority is the safety of children and that because there is a lot of crime, “South Africa should never relent in protecting children”.
But the upcoming visa rules have sparked heated debate both in parliament and among key tourism stakeholders who are anticipating a negative impact from these rules.
Last week, DA MP James Vos said he will be attending the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee being held on Tuesday to ask for a special task team to review the visa regulations.
Vos said in a statement that President Zuma had promised to prioritise the review in his 2015 State of the Nation address (SONA) “but has not yet delivered on his commitment”.
In his SONA speech Zuma said the review of visa regulations would be “to strike a balance between national security and growth in tourism”.
Department of Home Affairs Spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete told traveller24 the department is in the process of holding roundtable discussions with key tourism stakeholders but has yet to confirm who the stakeholders are and if there had been any key outcomes to date.
– Traveller24

May 22, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Visa panic grows

Graeme Hosken and Shenaaz Jamal – Times Live | 22 May, 2015
The requirements – which will force anyone travelling with a child, either from or to South Africa, to have an unabridged birth certificate – have been labelled an economy killer, unworkable and a divider of families.
The new rules follow regulations that came into effect last year that require tourists to lodge their visa applications in person at a South African mission in their home country. This caused a drop in tourist arrivals, leading Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom to express concern at their impact on the multibillion-rand sector, which employs about 1.5 million people.
The birth certificate rule is expected to be an additional drag on tourism and result in considerable personal hardship.
Case# 1
A British mother who made South Africa her home 10 years ago has been given 14 days to leave or face arrest.
Her deportation orders, given to her without explanation, will tear her family apart, with her 11-year-old daughter and husband, a South African citizen, having to stay.
“They are breaking us bit by bit,” said the mother, who cannot be named to protect her daughter.
The procurement specialist was brought to South Africa by her then employer. When she wanted to start her own business, and had to apply for a work visa, she hit a brick wall with Home Affairs officials. “I was informed that my daughter and I were ‘illegal and undesirable’.”
For nearly a year, the woman has been trying to secure a visa but has been sent from pillar to post, with Home Affairs officials telling her she does not live in the correct province for an application to be made or an office did not handle “good cause” applications.
On Wednesday last week, she was told that an application made in February had been rejected because she had not applied for a visa in 12 months.
She was given 14 days to leave the country. Her family’s only remaining hope is an urgent application filed in the Pretoria High Court yesterday by immigration company Global Migration SA.
“We pray that it will lead to a stay of the deportation.” said the woman. “We haven’t got anywhere else to go and don’t want to go anywhere else.”
The managing director of Global Migration, Leon Isaacson, said the Home Affairs Department had 48 hours either to rectify the matter or respond and contest it in court.
Case #2
Ma-Setlogelo Masote wanted unabridged birth certificates for her two sons. She received only one 10 months after applying.
Her other son, she was told, did not exist on the Home Affairs system. “It is a tedious process. I have no problem with the legislation and I understand the logic behind it, but the system is just not functioning like it’s supposed to,” said Masote.
She was told to reapply and provide an affidavit confirming the child was hers, but is yet to receive the second certificate.
Case # 3
The Tourism Business Council of SA says Home Affairs’ refusal to meet, negotiate or engage about the visa regulations spells disaster for South Africa.
“We have tried,” said council CEO Mmatsatsi Ramawela. “How do you negotiate with someone who ignores two impact-assessment reports and fails to meet you?”
Regulations implemented last year require visitors to go in person to a South African consulate, where biometric data must be captured.
The latest regulations specify that visitors travelling with children must source original unabridged birth certificates for children travelling to South Africa.
“The regulations are archaic,” said Ramawela. “Other countries are relaxing restrictions on allowing people in, but we are tightening ours while we want to grow tourism.
”We understand [the need to secure] the borders, but most illegal immigrants do not come through conventional border posts and ports,” she said.
“Our impact assessments have already shown a decrease in tourism numbers, with people . choosing to go elsewhere.”
Global Migration SA’s Isaacson said the biggest impact of the regulations was on people travelling with children from countries that do not provide unabridged birth certificates.
He said: “Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom revealed that the number of Chinese tourists has dropped by 50%, apparently because of difficulties in reporting in person to South African consuls.
“The same effect has happened in India and European countries. Logically, if you create expensive and difficult obstacles to get around, tourists will go elsewhere,” Isaacson said. Those applying for critical skills visas were waiting for anything from two months to a year for the documents.
Home Affairs responds:
The Home Affairs Department is adamant that it has given parents and guardians enough time to get unabridged birth certificates for their children. The department says in cases where a country cannot give an applicant an unabridged birth certificate for a child, the details of both parents on the child’s passport would be accepted.
The department stresses that the new legislation is aimed at preventing child trafficking.
In the case that a country does not have a South African consulate, the applicant will have to apply in a neighbouring country.
“One has to apply in a neighbouring country that has a diplomatic representative. This is standard international practice,” said Home Affairs spokesman Mayihlome Thwete.
He said the department was not aware of “many errors” on documents issued.
“Naturally there might be occasional errors and where these occur, the department corrects them,” he said.

May 21, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

10 things about marriage in South Africa

19 May 2015
Fewer couples are tying the knot. But, on a happier note, the number of divorces is also less than it was a decade ago.
1. THE NUMBER OF MARRIAGES REGISTERED IN SOUTH AFRICA HAS DECREASED EVERY YEAR SINCE 2008.

Back in the 1950s Frank Sinatra sang about how love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. But these days, for some couples, love seems to be able to get by pretty well on its own.
There’s less social pressure on people to tie the knot. And, given the cost, people have to think carefully about whether they can afford the white dress and big wedding. It’s interesting that the number of weddings took a big dip in 2008, when the global recession started to bite. But unlike the economy, by 2013 the wedding numbers hadn’t started to recover.
Three types of marriages are recognised in South African law. Civil marriages, by far the most common, are carried out, or solemnised, by licensed marriage officers at the department of home affairs or by religious marriage officers at chapels or religious buildings.
Just over 158 000 civil marriages were registered in 2013, according to the lastest data published by Statistics South Africa.
The second type, customary marriages, which recognise polygamy, have also decreased dramatically over the past decade from 17 283 in 2003 to 3 498 in 2013. Unfortunately, StatsSA does not distinguish which of these marriages are polygamous.
Nearly 70% of the customary marriages registered in 2013 were in KwaZulu-Natal.
Civil unions are the third type of marriage.

2. CIVIL UNIONS HAVE BUCKED THE TREND AND HAVE INCREASED BY A THIRD.

Civil unions recognise same-sex marriages, but also include opposite-sex marriages. There has been a relatively steady increase in the number of civil unions since 2009, from 760 in 2009 to 993 in 2013.
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to determine whether this means there has been a rise in same-sex marriages because StatsSA does not disclose the sex of the spouses: it simply uses the terms “spouse 1” and “spouse 2”.
Most of the civil unions in 2013 were registered in Gauteng (41%) and the Western Cape (32%).
3. MOST SOUTH AFRICAN MARRIAGES ARE PERFORMED BY OFFICIALS AT THE DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS

Only a third of the civil marriage ceremonies in 2013 were conducted by a priest or religious person.

4. THE WESTERN CAPE IS SA’S FAVOURITE PROVINCE FOR RELIGIOUS WEDDINGS.

It’s the only province where the number of religious weddings outnumbered weddings conducted by department of home affairs officials in 2013.
The Western Cape stands also stands out because 16% of all the country’s civil marriages were registered there – it’s the only province where the proportion of weddings is larger than the proportion of the total population (11%).
More than two-thirds of the marriages in 2013 were registered in just four provinces: Gauteng, the Western Cape, Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. But this is not surprising given that 68% of the country’s total population live in these provinces, according to the 2011 census figures.

5. MORE WEDDINGS ARE REGISTERED IN DECEMBER THAN ANY OTHER MONTH.

Couples clearly like to get married in the summer, so the number of weddings start to increase from around September and they peak in December. The Easter months are also relatively popular, said StatsSA.

6. MOST WOMEN GET MARRIED IN THEIR TWENTIES AND MEN IN THEIR THIRTIES.

The median age for marriage for brides is 30 years and for grooms it’s 35 years. What that means is half of the brides who married in 2013, for example, were younger than 30 and half were older, and 35 years was the mid point for the grooms.
A third of South Africa’s brides married when they were between the ages of 25 and 29 years. For grooms, 30 to 34, was the most common age: a quarter of the grooms fell in that age group.
For widowers, the median age for remarriage is 50 years, and for widows it is 30 years. For male divorcees it is 53 years and for female divorcees it’s 48 years.

7. MARRIED MINORS: 186 PEOPLE UNDER THE AGE OF 18 WED IN 2013

South African law puts restrictions on marriages involving people under 18 years old. Before they can marry they require the consent of a parent, guardian or commissioner of welfare. In addition boys under 18 years and girls under 16 years need the consent of the minister of home affairs, according to StatsSA.
Despite the bureaucratic obstacles, 14 grooms and 172 brides under the age of 18 were married in 2013.
Remarkably, one of the young grooms and two of the brides were already divorcees. Eight of the brides were widows.
An additional nine grooms and 79 brides under the age of 18 were married according to customary law.

8. MEN TEND TO MARRY YOUNGER WOMEN, BUT NOT ALWAYS.

Most men marry younger women, but there are exceptions. In fact in 2013, 24 000 men married older women, that’s 15% of all the grooms. Eight percent were the same age as the women they married.
Bachelors seem to be more likely to marry older divorced women than older spinsters. For example, 44% of bachelors who married divorcees were younger than their brides.
Adi Eyal of Code4SA took an indepth look at the ages of the people who married each other using 2012 data from StatsSA. “Every dot represents one or more marriages. As you move up the graph, the age of the bridegroom increases. As you move to the right, the age of the bride increases,” Eyal explains.
9. FEWER PEOPLE ARE GETTING DIVORCED THAN A DECADE AGO

Divorce numbers hit a low in 2011, but have started to pick up again since then. Nearly 80% of the almost 24 000 divorce cases in 2013 were from marriages solemnised by civil rites. Just under 20% were from those carried out by a religious marriage officer.
Most of the divorces (80%) ended first-marriages; around 10%, or 2 000, of the newly divorced couples had already been married once before, and about 2%, or 450, had been married at least three times.

10. ONLY A THIRD OF DIVORCES WERE INITIATED BY HUSBANDS

It seems that wives are more likely to be the partner who wants to end a marriage. In 2013, wives initiated just over half of the divorces. Husbands initiated 34%. And for 16% of the divorces the partner who initiated the split was unspecified.
The highest number of female divorcees were in the 35 to 39 age bracket, the male divorcees were slightly older, with the highest number in the 40 to 44 age bracket. The median age for divorced women was 39 and 43 for divorced men.
#Infomo – Information you won’t want to miss out on.
Data source: Marriages and Divorces 2013, Statistics South Africa.

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