Archive from October, 2016
Oct 31, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

Home Affairs responds to fears of festive chaos

Home Affairs responds to fears of festive chaos
28 Oct 2016 – Tourism Update
Before new measures, immigration queues at OR Tambo were taking an average of three hours to clear.
The Department of Home Affairs does not have plans to suspend the capture of biometrics at ports of entry over the festive season, neither is it authorised to employ a greater number of immigration officials to cope with the greater number of travellers expected.
The department revealed as much at a media briefing on Friday morning, which followed a meeting between the department and industry associations including the TBCSA, the Board of Airline Representatives of SA and the Airline Association of Southern Africa.
Director General Mkuseli Apleni says the Department will, however, look at extending the opening hours at some ports of entry to 24 hours. He also said for certain ports such as OR Tambo International, additional staff would be redeployed from areas where they are not busy, in order to help existing capacity cope with the extended hours.
Ultimately the plan is for the airport to operate with a full staff complement and all counters open from around December 8 to January 10.
While Apleni made no reference to other changes to the implementation of biometric capturing at OR Tambo, Tourism Update understand that a new queue system has been implemented.
On Friday, there were three queues at immigration at OR Tambo’s international arrivals hall: one for SA citizens, one for those requiring visas and one for those who don’t require visas. Irish tourists arriving on a morning flight took 35 minutes to clear immigration. They went into the queue for no visas required and their biometrics were not taken.

Oct 31, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

Thousands of tourists denied entry to SA – Shadow Minister

Thousands of tourists denied entry to SA – Shadow Minister
28 Oct 2016 _ Tourism Update
As many as 13 246 people were denied boarding to South Africa for the period June 2015 to July 2016 because of the requirement that minors travel with an unabridged birth certificate (UBC), according to statistics provided by the TBCSA presented in the Portfolio Committee on Tourism meeting in Parliament.
Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of Tourism, James Vos, revealed the figures in a statement over the weekend.
Taking into account that a tourist to South Africa spends on average R13 000 per day, the associatin estimates South Africa has lost potential revenue of R7.51 billion.
“In committee I pointed out that these ministers must be fired for causing a loss of R7,5 billion to our economy as a result of these disastrous and ludicrous visa regulations,” said Vos.
“This once again reinforces the DA’s call to the Department of Tourism to implement e-visas, which will streamline tourist facilitation, reduce turnaround time and make visa applications safer and more reliable.”
Vos said the DA will write to the Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, to ask what short term measures he has in place to counter this problem, given that the festive season is around the corner.

Oct 31, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

Dad takes on Gigaba over baby’s citizenship

Dad takes on Gigaba over baby’s citizenship
30 October 2016 Sunday Independent
Johannesburg – An SANDF member has taken Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba to the high court after his department allegedly refused to register his eight-month-old daughter, born to a Congolese woman, as a South African national.
Menzile Lawrence Naki filed papers in the high court in Grahamstown on Tuesday in which he gave a detailed account of his troubles in registering his daughter, who was born in February. In court papers, Naki stated that his child was born at Settler’s Hospital in Grahamstown and her mother is a citizen of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
He said he met Dimitrila Marie Ndovya while he was deployed as a peacekeeper in Goma in 2008.
“We fell in love soon after we met and I later proposed to her. In 2008, we entered into a customary marriage in the DRC.
“My mission ended in 2009 and I returned to South Africa. Dimitrila and I remained in constant communication. I returned to the DRC in 2013, on another peacekeeping mission,” he said.
He said in September last year, Ndovya came to South Africa “leaving our elder child in the DRC in the care of her mother. She travelled on her Congolese passport, having been issued with a three-month visitor’s visa in Lubumbashi. The visa expired on December 23, 2015.
“At the time the visa expired, she was heavily pregnant, a factor that made it practically impossible for her to apply timeously for a new visa. Dimitrila also could not leave South Africa due to her pregnancy. She wouldn’t have received medical permission to travel.
“Dimitrila and I decided that given her medical condition, she would apply for a new visa immediately after giving birth, so as to regularise her stay in the country,” Naki said.
She gave birth to the child on February 1.
“At the Home Affairs office, we were advised that my daughter’s birth could not be registered until Dimitrila had regularised her stay in South Africa and could produce a valid visa or permit.
“The Home Affairs officials consequently refused to accept our application and supporting documentation for the registration of Novuyo’s birth.”
He said that was the reason he made the court application under the Promotion of Access to Justice Act to force the Home Affairs Department to register his daughter.
“Dimitrila has been unable to apply, at the Grahamstown office, for a spousal visa or for permission to remain in South Africa pending the outcome of that application.
“She is too afraid to travel to another Home Affairs office to lodge such applications, fearing that she will be arrested or detained as an illegal foreigner,” he said.
“She has found herself with no practical choice but to return to the DRC – with the child.
“We remain unable to register Novuyo’s birth until Dimitrila is lawfully (back) in South Africa and can produce documentation to establish the lawfulness of her presence.
“Without registering Novuyo’s birth, I cannot get her a passport and she will not be able to travel with, or to see, her mother and will be indefinitely separated from her.”
He said he also lodged his court application to help others facing a similar plight.
Sunday Independent

Oct 25, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

VFS Global in soup over ‘lease breach’

VFS Global in soup over ‘lease breach’
25 Oct 2016 – Bizcommunity

VFS Global, which manages visa application centres on behalf of the Department of Home Affairs, could soon be kicked out of its offices in the Absa Building in Cape Town for allegedly breaching its lease agreement. Although the Absa Building management refused to comment, it is understood the high volumes of applicants entering the building were largely responsible for the breach.

The bulk of these applicants were applying for special permits under the Lesotho Dispensation Project.

The building is owned by Absa and managed by Rennie Property. VFS confirmed at the weekend it had temporarily moved offices to a building in Strand Street after Absa Building management restricted applicants from entering their offices due to overcrowding.

VFS Global Africa chief operating officer Jiten Vyas told Business Day the company was surprised when building management restricted applicants.

“We are in active discussions with building management… It must have been due to the overcrowding,” said Vyas.

He indicated that VFS hopes to return to the Absa Building after resolving the dispute.

Gary Eisenberg, an immigration lawyer from Eisenberg and Associates, said this was just one of many risks linked to the appointment of a private company by a state department to act in an administrative function.

“As a private entity, VFS comes with no backing of sovereign warranty. So when civil issues like this arise, the company has little to no protection in being able to continue to provide its contracted services on behalf of the department.

“While VFS is a professional service provider, its existence in SA arose from the inability of the Department of Home Affairs to provide adequate counter services to the public.”

Source: Business Day

Oct 25, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

‘Sort out immigration delays or tourists will stay away’

‘Sort out immigration delays or tourists will stay away’
25 October 2016 – Travel News
Johannesburg – Act now to clarify entry requirements and to address delays at Immigration at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) or risk seriously harming the country’s burgeoning tourism trade and the economy, says Erik Venter, CEO of Comair.
Recent weeks have seen thousands of visitors waiting for up to four hours to be processed, which has meant that hundreds have missed their connecting flights, despite landing at ORTIA in good time to board them. Venter says this is especially concerning as South Africa’s tourism sector enters its busiest time of the year.
Venter says: “The delays at ORTIA Immigration are due to the introduction of biometric identification at Immigration, as well as staffing changes which have led to too few officials from the Department of Home Affairs manning the counters.
“We’re participating in the task team that’s working to address the situation and in ongoing contact with all stakeholders, but the airline industry and the travel and hospitality sector need the Department of Home Affairs to treat this as urgent to make significant progress on the matter in the next few weeks.
“Tourism to South Africa is set to grow by nearly 15 percent year-on-year in 2016, according to the Statistics South Africa, but making it difficult for visitors to travel to this country will reduce or potentially even cancel out those gains.”
South Africa is a popular destination, especially for visitors from the Northern Hemisphere – now entering winter – as well as the Far East and the rest of the African continent. This country has many attractions, underpinned by the favourable Rand exchange-rate, but these travellers are by no means short of choice, he adds.
Venter says it’s also worrying that there’s also widespread confusion among travellers and the travel industry over documentation requirements for visitors, to the detriment of the tourism sector, which has the potential to be a powerful driver of socioeconomic development in South Africa.
“A vibrant tourism sector has multiple benefits for our country: it supports economic growth in an environment where traditionally strong sectors like mining and manufacturing have faltered. Secondly, tourism is labour-intensive, so it creates jobs and enables skills transfer and transformation.
“Thirdly, tourism brings our country much-needed foreign exchange, helping to drive our balance of payments as effectively as a strong export sector would. That’s why, for example, confusion over the required documentation for immigration needs to be clarified.”
Venter explains that, following the initial difficulties with unabridged birth certificates, it was announced that the requirements would be changed. This has led some stakeholders to assume that unabridged birth certificates are no longer required, but, he says, “To our knowledge those requirements remain in place.
“Obviously any state needs border controls, but visitors to and within South Africa deserve the best possible customer experience our country can offer. Comair is assisting customers who miss their connections by rebooking them on later flights or providing accommodation where necessary. But the sector simply cannot allow visitors to be inconvenienced by being denied boarding their flights, or needing to be re-accommodated, or being denied entry despite being assured that they had the right documentation.”
Venter suggests that the rigorous controls at South Africa’s international airports indicate no evidence of child-trafficking into or of the country by air. “Child-trafficking is a scourge that must be quashed, but doing so requires focusing on our porous land borders, rather than airports.”
For the record, says Venter, the Department of Home Affairs has not changed its requirements for entry, despite having undertaken to review them. “As from 1 October 2014, all persons under the age of 18 years of age, arriving, transiting and/or departing from SA are required to produce an unabridged birth certificate indicating the biological parents of the minor. In the case where only one parent is travelling with the child/ren, a consent from the other parent in the form of an affidavit, is required.
“Alternatively, a court order granting full parental rights and responsibilities to the person travelling with the minor or a death certificate of the other biological parent must be produced. Airlines will be forced to refuse travel to families not in possession of these documents. These new regulations have been implemented to combat child trafficking.”

Oct 25, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

Involving chiefs in registering births

Involving chiefs in registering births
October 19, 2016 – Dispatch Live
A task team will be set up to look into how traditional leaders can assist government to fast-track the early registration of children in rural communities.
The team will comprise traditional leaders and senior officials in the Department of Home Affairs and will investigate how traditional council offices can be used to offer Home Affairs services to communities.
South Africans don’t regard themselves as Africans according to Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba proposed the task team, between his department and traditional leaders, at a sitting of the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) in Bhisho yesterday.
He was addressing chairpersons of all provincial houses of traditional leaders as part of consultations on the progress made towards the adoption of the revised policy on international migration.
Gigaba said his department would like to work closely with traditional leaders as they had plans to embark on a universal early child registration programme.
“Early child birth registration will tell us who was born here and who was not. It will help us establish the family tree and will be a credible database that will be able to help the Department of Basic Education to plan better.
“You cannot plan better while you are blindfolded. The biggest loophole [the department has] is the late registration of birth [certificates].”
Gigaba said the late registration of birth certificates was exploited by people who arrived at the department claiming their parents had died and that they no longer had relatives to prove that they were South Africans.
Last week, provincial education MEC Mandla Makupula said his department had spearheaded an initiative to verify the identity documents (IDs) of pupils, a move which he claimed was the first of its kind in the country.
He said at the time that the department was working closely with Home Affairs and other security state organs.
Makupula said the department would allocate school resources, other than the feeding scheme, to those pupils whose IDs had been verified.
Gigaba said the department could use traditional council offices to deliver services to communities.
Currently, people in urban areas enjoyed better services.
The department needed to improve services in rural communities.
The minister said skilled foreign nationals could be used by communities. The planned policy was to teach South Africans that they were part of Africa.
“We’ll never be anything else,” he said after a comment by the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders deputy chairman Prince Zolile Burns-Ncamashe that South Africans had lost their consciousness that they were Africans.
Ncamashe said it seemed that xenophobia attacks were targeted at non-European foreign nationals. “South Africans do not see themselves as Africans.”

Oct 24, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

Share the migration burden, says Africa

Share the migration burden, says Africa

ISS, Institute for Security Studies – 18 Oct 2016

Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto had harsh words for richer countries that do not take an equal responsibility for hosting refugees. Speaking at the 19 September UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants, on the eve of the UN General Assembly debate, he said nothing better demonstrates the failure of international burden-sharing than the fact that 86% of the world’s 22 million forced migrants and refugees are hosted in 10 developing countries. Kenya is one of them.
Ruto was scathing about the lack of financial support to his country to deal with the refugee crisis. Less than 1% of the US$500 million pledged to help Kenya deal with refugees had materialised, he said. One of the consequences was the country’s decision to close its Dadaab refugee camp, the biggest in the world. Environmental degradation and security were also reasons for closing the camp, Ruto said.
Dadaab, situated near the Somali border, was seen as a recruitment ground for al-Shabaab. The decision to close the camp, taken in October 2015, came soon after the European Union signed a multibillion-dollar deal with Turkey to stem the flow of refugees headed for Europe. Kenya said that voluntary international funding for the camp had been reduced in favour of ‘raising budgets in the northern hemisphere to [deal with] refugees headed to the West.’
South African President Jacob Zuma also emphasised Africa’s experience of the refugee crisis saying ‘the forcible displacement of people has always, and continues to occur, across the globe.’ He reminded member states that the plight of refugees should be treated with equal concern, whether the movements were large or small. The New York Declaration, signed by 193 countries, deals mainly with large movements of people.
South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba, in an interview with PSC Report, said Africa had been experiencing large migrant flows, including fatal journeys across the Mediterranean, but no summits were called. ‘That would seem to suggest that the lives of Africans don’t matter,’ he said. He added that the New York Declaration ‘still reflects a bias towards the dominant countries’ and that Africa would continue to push its position on this issue after the summit.
Oxfam International noted at the summit that the world’s six richest countries hosted less than 9% of the world’s refugees.
The summit did however recognise that African countries were models of how refugees should be hosted. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said the Ugandan government had an ‘open door’ refugee policy and has mobilised a broad range of partners and institutions in an innovative response centred on education and livelihoods, including for host communities.
Uganda’s Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Refugees Hillary Onek told the summit Uganda had received over 120 000 South Sudanese refugees since July and, together with an influx from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, expected to have over 810 000 refugees by year-end.
The government has a policy to protect refugees, he said, but it needs commitment from the international community to ensure sustained interventions and to build strong partnerships internally, regionally and globally to address forced migration.
Senegalese President Macky Sall emphasised the right to dignity: ‘In many cases migrants are good people who work hard to make a living and therefore contribute socially and economically in their host countries,’ he said. ‘Rather than a systematic policy of returning migrants, the situation of migrants should be stabilised and this should be done by the appropriate regularisation of their status.’
Sall expressed concern about possible detention centres in African countries. ‘This question needs to be looked at seriously in light of the rules which govern the right of persons and their assets in integrated areas such as the Economic Community of West African States,’ he said.
Despite the reservations of African leaders, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the meeting ‘represents a breakthrough in our collective efforts to address the challenges of human mobility,’ which was at unprecedented levels. He noted that the New York Declaration commits states to:
• Protect the human rights of all refugees and migrants, regardless of their status
• Increase support for the hardest-hit countries
• Assist despairing people in protracted crises
• Ensure that children get an education
• Improve search and rescue operations
• Boost humanitarian funding and resettlement of refugees
UN member states will now work towards ratifying a convention in 2018 similar to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which will give specifics on how to deal with migrants.
Following the UN summit, US President Barack Obama’s Leaders’ Summit on Refugees brought together leaders from 50 countries. Several big pledges were made to help countries deal with the refugee crisis. Obama acknowledged that refugees in places like Ecuador or Kenya ‘don’t always get as much attention as some of the recent migrations, but they need help too.’
Pledges to the UN and humanitarian organisations working with refugees increased this year to US$4.5 billion. This is still woefully short of what is needed. Whether these international gatherings have caused enough unease to help leaders overcome reluctant electorates and spring into action will likely only be known at the report-back session in a year’s time.