Archive from June, 2015
Jun 30, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Home Affairs Corruption exposed

Jun 29 2015 – The New Age

Several touts and a police officer have been “caught” on camera allegedly taking bribes at the Marabastad offices of the Home Affairs Department.
In a special ANN7 investigation, an asylum seeker used a hidden camera to capture “touts and a police officer” involved
in what appears to be the taking of bribes outside the office which specialises in asylum seekers.
Each week thousands of foreigners queue outside the office in Pretoria to apply for temporary residency or asylum.
@ANN7tv These story is so real. Many Home Affairs officials are crooks. I feel sorry for what foreign nationals have to experience.
— Samuel Tshehla (@tshehla003) June 29, 2015
The queues start before dawn and so the touts in search of bribes to secure documents and preferential places in the snaking queue get prepared.
Our source was able to procure an affidavit for R50.
Using a hidden camera the source, who claimed to have lost his documents, paid a tout.
The tout then approached a police officer for the affidavit, which was signed and stamped by the police officer and filled in by the tout.
@amradebe_boroja Indeed. Whilst other news channels are busy being complacent, @ANN7tv is breaking new ground
— From A Writer’s Mind (@FAWMfb) June 29, 2015
Armed with his document our source then, with another R50, secured a place in a “special” queue.
In such there is a promise of “no fighting”.
Also it moves steadily towards the home affairs office door.
In various conversations caught on camera our source is also seen in discussion with a tout about other fees.
He is informed he will have to pay even more to have his papers put in order. In order to “make an appointment ” to go into the office, the tout tells the source he would be expected to pay R300 to R400 and once inside another R400.
According to the Home Affairs website there is no fee payable for eligibility and status determination interviews for asylum seekers or for a refugee ID.
In January, when ANN7 conducted an exposé at Marabastad, the Department of Home Affairs undertook to ensure the pockets of corruption there were dealt with.
Minister Malusi Gigaba gave a directive to his director-general Mkuseli Apleni to act decisively to rid the office of graft.
Department spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete, said yesterday that they took a dim view of officials engaged in illegal activities. “Our operations have netted people who are either in police custody or dismissed,” he said.
Department Home Affairs director general, Mkuseli Apleni, said in order for you get asylum you need to be persecuted in your home country. This can be religious, ethnic, sexual.
@ANN7tv These story is so real. Many Home Affairs officials are crooks. I feel sorry for what foreign nationals have to experience.
— Samuel Tshehla (@tshehla003) June 29, 2015
Having a colloquium to deal with immigration issues.
SAPS’ Brig Mashadi Selepe, said they were trying their best to root out corruption and were working with Home Affairs to deal with corruption.
-Kalden Ongmu

Jun 30, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Tourism industry loses R886m in seven months

24 June 2015 – EWN
JOHANNESBURG – The Tourism Business Council (TBC) says the tourism industry lost direct spend of at least R886 million in the last seven months of 2014 due to biometric visas.

In May last year, the Home Affairs Department introduced the visas, where tourists in certain countries are required to appear in person during the application process.

Added to this, there are also concerns about tourism revenue being affected by new visa regulations which came into effect at the beginning of this month.

They require all children travelling overseas to have an unabridged birth certificate.

The TBC of South Africa partnered with audit company Grant Thorton to look into the negative impact of new regulations on the South African tourism industry.

Council Chair Mavuso Msimang says fewer tourists are coming into the country because the new laws are a burden and an inconvenience.

“You will discourage people from coming here if they can go elsewhere where they are not going to be hassled.”

The council has also estimated that the unabridged birth certificate regulations, implemented at the beginning of the month, will make matters worse with the number of lost foreign tourists likely to increase to 100,000 this year.
It also estimates a loss in direct tourism spend of more than R1 billion.

Jun 30, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

US doctor, three children to be deported from SA

2015-06-29 – Thomas Hartleb, News24
Johannesburg – A doctor at the Mayo Clinic in the US and her three children are going to be deported from OR Tambo International Airport on Monday night after she arrived without the necessary travel documents.
Martina Mookadam’s husband was travelling from the UK with her and their three children, aged 10, 14, and 15, when he was called to treat a patient from the royal family of a state in the Middle East, Gift of the Givers founder, Imtiaz Sooliman, said in a statement.
The husband is a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, in Arizona. They were on their way to visit family in South Africa.
The family contacted Sooliman for help after immigration officials stopped Mookadam and the children from entering South Africa. Mookadam did not have the children’s unabridged birth certificates and an affidavit from the absent parent, as South Africa’s new travel laws require.
When she landed at OR Tambo International Airport “they refused to listen to anything she had to say”, Sooliman said.
She and her children were being held in a detention centre at the airport and would be deported on a flight at 19:20 on Monday.
“Martina was not allowed to even ask which flight they were being deported on. She offered to get a stamped letter signed by her husband and sent from a police station in the United States. It was flatly refused,” Sooliman said.
Home affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said they sympathised, but could not bend the rules.
“Even if we completely sympathise with the type of work the doctor has to do, our immigration officers can’t allow people to come into the country undocumented.”
No exception could be made, even in case like this, where one of the parents had to be called away for an emergency.
“We don’t allow our immigration officers to make those type of decisions. That will have to come from a DG [director general] or a political principal. If an immigration official makes that decision, the department of home affairs is liable for anything that happens to those children.
“If exceptions are to be made, which they rarely are, it’s the result of an appeal to the minister or to the DG. It would be unfair on the immigration officer to make that type of decision.”
Sooliman said the matter would result in bad publicity for South Africa in the US and deter potential tourists from coming here.
“The US has very strict travel requirements for children,” Tshwete said.
“Even if we had a South African doctor, who is revered, going to the US without the necessary documents, the same would happen to him.
“We would be setting a very terrible precedent by saying that if you are an esteemed member of the public you don’t have to adhere to the laws.”

Jun 30, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Lesotho revokes Gupta passports

2015-06-28 – City Press – Caiphus Kgosana
Johannesburg – The Guptas have been fired as special advisers to the prime minister of Lesotho, and their diplomatic passports have been revoked.
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili has removed the politically connected Atul Gupta and his nephew Essa Omar Aziz as his special advisers, and has cancelled the passports they obtained controversially last August.
His spokesperson, Motumi Ralejoe, told City Press that Mosisili had no use for them.
“The prime minster said he doesn’t need them as advisers. The home affairs minister was left with no option but to tell them that their services are no longer needed by the coalition government, and therefore they had to give back the diplomatic passports,” he said.
Former prime minister Tom Thabane appointed Gupta and Aziz as special advisers in August, saying he needed them to market Lesotho in the Middle East.
Thabane said he had been introduced to the Guptas by President Jacob Zuma.
“These people [the Guptas] are good friends of the ANC and we have good relations with the ANC,” he was quoted as saying.
“I appointed them to help scout for investment in my country. They have influence in a number of countries that can help Lesotho.”
The Lesotho Times reported that Home Affairs Minister Lekhetho Rakuoane told Parliament that he had investigated the circumstances under which the Guptas were hired.
“We are working together with the prime minister’s office in dealing with the Gupta matter. The prime minister has made it very clear that he does not want the Guptas as his special advisers,” Rakuoane reportedly said.
Asked what services the Guptas had provided, Ralejoe said he did not know.
“That’s a million-dollar question. We don’t know and we are not interested,” he said.
He could not immediately say how much the Guptas had received as special advisers, or if they had been paid at all.
Ralejoe said Mosisili had not met or spoken to the Guptas since becoming prime minister.
“They are controversial figures in your country. The prime minister didn’t want to get involved in that,” he said.
Atul Gupta could not be reached on the phone yesterday. The Guptas’ spokesperson, Gary Naidoo, was also unavailable.
Meanwhile, the security situation in Lesotho is deteriorating again after a former head of the defence force was shot dead earlier this week.
The defence ministry said Lieutenant General Maaparankoe Mahao, head of the defence force for a short time last year under Thabane, was shot dead during an operation on Thursday evening to arrest “conspirators in an alleged coup”.
A man who identified himself as Mahao’s brother told a local radio station that his brother was in a car with his two sons when soldiers in three vehicles stopped the car and fired at him. His assailants threw his body on to a bakkie before driving away.
The latest incident is one of many over the past few months that further threaten the already fragile political situation in the country. – Additional reporting by Pieter Malan.

Jun 29, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

SA coffee shop voted the best in the WORLD! Here are our favourite coffee spots in SA

Cape Town – The sexy steampunk Truth Coffee Roasting shop in Buitenkant street, Cape Town, has been mentioned by acclaimed UK news agency, The Telegraph, as being the very best in the whole world – and we agree they’re the cream of the crop!

From a list of 13 unique coffee shops and roasteries in the world, Truth’s steampunk-inspired artisan coffee shop – a warehouse filled from top to bottom with metal piping and quirky, old machinery – surfaced on top, grinding out some of the top shops in France, Vienna, Singapore and Italy.

Jun 29, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

New SA visa rules: Is Home Affairs using SA taxpayers’ money effectively?

2015-06-26 – Traveller 24
Cape Town – The second impact study commissioned by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) to assess how South Africa’s new immigration regulations are affecting the tourism industry shows that the department of home affairs could have resorted to a far simpler and more cost-effective solution when it comes to the collection of biometric data.
TBCSA says the study it commissioned from Grant Thornton specifically looked at two negative areas of concern.
Changes to SA’s immigration and visa policy specify that tourists coming from countries whose citizens are required to have a visa, need to appear in person during the visa application process and for all minors travelling to and from South Africa to be in possession of an unabridged birth certificate in addition to their passport, where applicable.
Cheaper to secure SA’s borders
While the unabridged birth certificate requirement has been a particularly contentious issue, the study also highlighted the cost factor associated with the collection of biometric data. The TBCSA told Traveller24 the impact study found that it would have been more cost effective to implement the collection of biometric data on arrival at South African borders than to implement the same system in SA’s various consulates and processing centres across the globe.
Research shows that countries with visa on arrival policies as well as e-visas have significantly grown their inbound
TBCSA Corporate Communications Manager Kagiso Mosue told Traveller24: “By our estimates, around 115 biometric readers would be required to meet the needs of South Africa’s 69 border posts, [South Africa’s] many smaller border crossings would only need one reader whilst larger posts like OR Tambo would need a significant number.”
The impact assessment study shows that the cost to install biometric readers at South African consulates would be around R17.5 million compared to the R7 million to install the same system at all of South Africa’s border posts. That’s an estimated difference of R10 million.
Mosue also highlighted that the estimate from the impact study did not take the following into consideration:
– Additional costs incurred in transporting and setting up the system in different countries and various border posts in South Africa
– The costs associated with training officials in South Africa versus training those outside of South Africa; and
– The possible outsourcing of the visa processing system (although this may reduce the initial capital costs, there will be ongoing operating costs which will be much higher than in-house operations).
SA only country requiring unabridged birth certificate
Regarding the requirement for minors needing to have an unabridged birth certificate, the impact report stated that no other country required children to travel with an unabridged birth certificate in addition to their passport when travelling with both parents.
The unabridged birth certificate requirement is at the centre of a call for the new rules to be reviewed as it has also been pegged as a key contributor to a drop in tourism numbers. The study also shows in 2015, the number of lost foreign tourists due to changes in the immigration regulations is likely to increase to 100 000 with a direct tourism spend of R1.4bn.
The estimated net loss to the South African GDP is expected to be around R4.1bn, with a further loss of 9 300 jobs.
The fact that there is no international standard for birth certificates only serves to compound the issue around the requirement.
The report states that as each country had the right to develop their own document that proved the birth or existence of a person, this would specifically impact a visitor’s decision to visit South Africa, since “obtaining a certified copy of this document is frequently costly and timely”.
Visitors from African and eastern countries are expected to experience the most difficulty in obtaining birth certificates timeously and without hassle.
Demand from China dropping
Official tourism statistics indicate that the number of visitors from India and China in particular have decreased significantly in 2014 – with the main service provider Air China stating that it had put its direct route on hold, citing concerns about the new visa requirements.
The direct flight to OR Tambo was meant to come into effect at the end of June but has since been put on hold until October 29.
An estimated 15% of inbound tourists in South Africa, about 1.4 million people being impacted by the requirement for children to travel with a birth certificate, assuming a ratio of one adult to one child.
According to the report, demand from China dropped by almost a quarter in 2014 as less than 83 000 Chinese tourists visited South Africa in 2014 when compared to 109 000 visitors in 2013.
“China has become the largest outbound tourism market in the world with 109 million outbound tourists in 2014. Furthermore, Chinese tourists are big spenders and collectively represent the world’s top tourist spending nation,” the report stated.
A review of the regulations needs to be on the cards
News24 reports that the TBCSA plans to continue to monitor developments, provide the required information to assist businesses to better handle various cases, whilst also lobbying for the review of the regulations.
“Our first impact assessment report already gave us a glimpse of what to expect and sadly, we have not managed to successfully militate against some of the risks which were highlighted by the first report,” TBCSA CEO, Mmatšatši Ramawela.
Ramawela reiterated that the industry was not against government’s plans to address the issue of child trafficking or to enhance national security but rather that these objectives could be achieved without compromising the country’s tourism and overall economic growth potential.
“What we are saying is, allow us an opportunity to engage and present alternative solutions which will not have such a drastic impact on our industry.
“Although still unconfirmed, suggestions that a review of the regulations may be on the cards gives us hope. Despite the set-backs we have experienced thus far, we remain optimistic that we can find a win-win solution on this matter,” said Ramawela

Jun 29, 2015 - Business Permit    No Comments

Northern Australia White Paper recognises importance of tourism

June 25, 2015 – Travel & Tour
Australia’s Minister for Trade and Investment, responsible for tourism, Andrew Robb welcomed the benefits the Northern Australia White Paper will have for Australia’s tourism industry.
“Tourism and hospitality can be our fastest growing sector in coming decades – particularly in the Great North – but only if we have the right visa settings, attract more investment and provide better access to skilled labour,” Mr Robb said.
“The tourism industry employs almost one million Australians and is our largest services export valued at $30 billion. Today’s White Paper recognises the importance of tourism not only to the development of Northern Australia but to the Australian economy as a whole.”
“In particular, reforms to visitor visas including the introduction of a 10-year validity visa for Chinese visitors, roll-out of e-lodgement for China and India, trialling a fast track service and enabling Chinese language lodgement of visitor visa applications, will ensure Australia is well placed to capture a growing share of these markets.”
“Similarly, improvements to the vital Working Holiday Maker program including allowing backpackers to work for 12 (instead of six) months with a single northern employer, and granting a small number a second year if they work in northern tourism, will greatly assist the tourism sector that faces 56,000 job vacancies this year. Backpackers spend on average $13,000 during their stay, so these measures will increase tourism expenditure, particularly in regional areas.”