Archive from May, 2018

Two officers at Australian embassy in South Africa ‘are sacked amid investigation into cash-for-visa scam’

Daily Mail Australia – 22 May 2018
• An alleged visa scam was operating from the Australian embassy in South Africa
• Two Immigration Department officials have been fired after an investigation
• It’s alleged that they were being bribed to give Nigerian citizens student visas
• The probe found that at least 21 students had been given the shonky visas
Two officials at an Australia embassy in South Africa have reportedly been sacked amid a probe into allegations Nigerian nationals paid bribes for visas.
At least 21 Nigerians received Australian student visas, which a high-level investigation said were ‘tainted by the corrupt conduct of the department officers’, according to The Herald Sun.
The two Australian High Commission officials were fired after a joint investigation by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) and the Immigration Department, the publication reported.
An alleged visa scam was operating from the Australian embassy in South Africa (pictured)
The alleged scam involved criminals paying corrupt officials for Australian visas for Nigerian nationals.
Officials were accused of bypassing mandatory checks and granting visas within days to people deemed by Australia as high-risk.
The 21 visas were processed between February and April last year, according to a recent Administrative Appeals Tribunal document.
They were ‘identified by the department as being tainted by the corrupt conduct of the department officers,’ the AAT decision read.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and a delegate for Home Affairs cancelled the visa of one Nigerian student because they believed it to be fraudulent but the ruling was overturned
As part of the tribunal, a report was provided which analysed 13 applications of Nigerian students that were approved by the allegedly corrupt officers.
One student, who is suspected of entering on a dodgy visa, was told by a delegate for Home Affairs and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton that her visa would be cancelled.
But Ogochukwu Concilia Odinkaeze narrowly avoided deportation after AAT deputy president Jan Redfern and AAT member Dr Colin Huntly overturned the decision to cancel her visa.
Mr Dutton’s delegate said that an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the granting of Ms Odinkaeze’s visa had been conducted.
They stated that Ms Odinkaeze did not know she was in Australia on an shonky visa.
‘I have considered Ms Odinkaeze’s claims that she is unaware of such fraudulent conduct and applied for the visa on her own merits,’ the delegate said in a statement.
Two Immigration Department officials have been fired as a result of the investigation
‘The evidence that the ground for cancellation exists was provided by reliable verifiable sources.’
The delegate also told the tribunal that had she applied through the appropriate channels her visa ‘would not have been granted.’
‘Relevantly, Ms Odinkaeze is not the subject of this analyse but her application is one of 21 Nigerian student applications processed in the period of February, March and April 2017 that was identified by the department as being tainted by the corrupt conduct of the department officers,’ the AAT decision said.

Home Affairs, the Rule of Law and all that jazz

14 May 2018 – Daily Maverick
A line of asylum-seekers stand under the Nelson Mandela Boulevard bridge every day on the Foreshore in Cape Town – a queue, I believe, partly manufactured by the Department of Home Affairs to make South Africans believe that we are inundated by “a deluge” of cross-border migrants.
We are certainly not inundated – surveys have found that only between 2.8% to 5.8% of the South African population are “foreign-born”.
The people in this queue are waiting, and desperately hoping, to be allowed through the entrance and to be swallowed by dark and dank Customs House, and thus to be one step closer to having their Section 22 permits renewed.
These “papers” would allow them to survive in South African society legally. A simple queue management system (among other things) would make a world of difference to those who stand day-in and day-out in the dust of the pavement, amid the exhaust fumes that sift down from the highway leading to the bright lights and polish of the Waterfront. This queue stands painfully exposed to glowering South African eyes that whizz past in cars to their next urgent appointment.
Two weeks ago, I was part of a small delegation of representatives from human rights organisations and migrant groups who tried to meet with the Director of the Refugee Reception Office in Customs House. We barely made it past the first gate, despite our best efforts to secure a meeting. The question we wanted to ask was a simple one: was the staff poised and ready to operate a fully functional Cape Town Refugee Reception Office by 31 March? It was just a little bit more than a week away and the clock was ticking.
This question would come as no surprise to the office’s director; Home Affairs has been instructed in no uncertain terms by the courts to be ready by this date. The last ruling was in September 2017 by the Supreme Court of Appeal, and Home Affairs’ petition to the Constitutional Court to appeal this decision was turned down. Part of the court order states that Home Affairs was also obliged to provide regular progress reports on how their preparations were coming along in opening a fully functional Cape Town Refugee Reception Office. Not a single page of such a report had emerged from their offices.
One of my colleagues was eventually allowed into the building to see the director, but didn’t come back with joyful news. The director refused to answer any of her questions and referred her to someone else.
I sneakily managed to enter the building under the pretext of needing to use the toilets (the porter loos that were previously located outside the building had long since been removed).
I peered out from the dusty windows of the bathroom to see the long queue of people a few floors down, waiting patiently. Barely moving. Just across the road at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, busy trucks, energetic project managers and frenzied workers were putting the last touches to the stages and classy tents of the Cape Town Jazz Festival. The juxtaposition of glitzy glamour and dusty squalor couldn’t be more striking than in this distinctively South African scene.
I caught the eye of a mom from the Congo in the bathroom changing her nine-month-old baby’s nappy on the bathroom floor (no nappy-changing facilities to be seen. No toilet paper. No dustbins). She had been in the queue since 15:00 the day before and had slept under the bridge with 36 others. She smiled at me – she was one of the 20 lucky ones who had made it into the building today. Seventeen unlucky ones had been turned away, only to have to replay the same scenario the following week.
The mom and I parted ways at the bathroom door with a nod. She threw the dirty nappy in an overflowing dustbin in the passage and cheerfully rejoined the lucky queue inside the offices. I turned to meet up with my colleagues outside talking to the people in the unlucky queue.
Newcomers to South Africa seeking asylum and who live in Cape Town must go to the Musina, Pretoria or Durban Refugee Reception Offices to apply for a permit. Bizarrely, they are not assisted in this half-functioning Refugee Reception Office on the Foreshore. Many of the same asylum-seekers have to travel from Cape Town to these far-flung places every couple of months to renew their permits.
The court order is clear that Home Affairs was to fundamentally change this situation by the end of March. They had failed again, as they had done previously: they disgracefully ignored the Supreme Court of Appeal’s order to reopen a Refugee Reception Office in Port Elizabeth by a 1 June 2015 deadline. That office is still not open.
Civil society has vowed that home affairs will not get away with the same shenanigans in Cape Town.
We launched a silent protest at Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, and an #OpentheRRO social media campaign aimed at reminding the department and Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, daily of how much time was left before their ‘DayZero’ at the end of March. On 28 March, the department agreed to meet with us, and representatives arrive.
We were informed that the Cape Town Refugee Reception Office will not be fully operational as it was up to the Department of Public Works to secure premises for Home Affairs.
The audacity of Home Affairs to seemingly pass the buck to Public Works, and defy the rule of law, is dazzling. Come the beginning of April, and the fully functional Cape Town Refugee Reception Office is nowhere to be seen.
We are steely determined to further our important advocacy plans to push Home Affairs to respect the rule of law, and their constitutional obligations.

Record year for SA tourism in 2018 – global report

Record year for SA tourism in 2018 – global report
Mar 22 2018 – Fin24
Cape Town – Travel and tourism is forecast to contribute more to the South African economy in 2018 than in any other year, according to new research released by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) on Thursday.
The WTTC forecasts that the sector will contribute R424.5bn to the overall SA economy in 2018 – about 3% more than in 2017.
According to Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of WTTC, travel and tourism creates jobs, drives economic growth and helps build better societies.
“WTTC predicts that our sector will contribute more to the SA economy than in any other year, which makes it the perfect partner for the new administration to put at the heart of the country’s long-term economic plans,” she said.
Travel and tourism supported 1.5 million jobs in SA in 2017 – 9.5% of total employment in the country. The WTTC report estimates that by 2028 almost 2.1 million jobs in SA will depend on travel and tourism.
The industry contributes 9% of the total gross domestic product (GDP) of SA, once all the direct, indirect and induced benefits are taken into account.
In constant 2017 prices and exchange rates, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to SA’s GDP was R136.1bn (2.9% of total GDP) in 2017. WTTC forecasts this will rise by 2.4% in 2018 and by 3.6% per year between 2018 to 2028. The total contribution of travel and tourism to SA’s GDP was R412.5bn (8.9% of GDP) in 2017 and is forecast to rise by 2.9% in 2018.
As for the potential impact of the drought in the Western Cape and Cape Town’s water challenge on the tourism industry, WTTC spokesperson Toby Nicol told Fin24 that the numbers released in the latest report did not model any possible impact of the Cape Town water situation as the situation appears to be under control.
Cape Town is also just one element of the overall SA tourism offer.
“Tourists tend to be remarkably resilient when it comes to visiting destinations,” he added.
Global trends
For the seventh consecutive year, the global travel and tourism sector has outperformed the global economy. In 2017 it was the fastest growing broad economic sector globally, showing stronger growth than all sectors including manufacturing (4.2%), retail and wholesale (3.4%), agriculture, forestry and fisheries (2.6%) and financial services (2.5%).
It supports one in ten jobs on the planet and contributes 10% of global GDP, according to Guevara.
“Over the past ten years, one in five of all jobs created across the world has been in the sector and, with the right support from governments, nearly 100 million new jobs could be created over the decade ahead,” she said.
Global forecasts for 2018 suggest that growth in the global travel and tourism industry will continue, although at a slower rate than in 2017 as a result of higher oil prices.

“As our sector continues to become more important both as a generator of GDP and jobs, our key challenge will be ensuring this growth is sustainable and inclusive,” said Guevara.
“Going forward we need to ensure that growth is planned for, well managed and includes partnerships between not only the public and private sectors but also includes communities themselves.”

Cape Town events bring R3bn for local economy over 8 months

Cape Town events bring R3bn for local economy over 8 months
Apr 19 2018 – Fin24

Cape Town – Over the past eight months events tourism in Cape Town has contributed an estimated R3bn to the local economy and enabled the creation of more than 20 000 temporary jobs.
Cape Town has been recognised four years in a row as the leading events destination in Africa, according to Leonora DeSouza-Zilwa, manager of events at the City of Cape Town.
The Mother City secures key international and national events, she said at World Travel Market (WTM) Africa on Thursday.

“Events tourism is a crucial economic driver in Cape Town and we are aware that success is based on partnerships,” she said. “Cape Town is open for business, especially for events business.”
In 2012 the City of Cape Town started its dedicated events strategy. At the time the City was only supporting eleven events financially compared to almost 200 today. Most of the City’s financial support for events is for cultural events and only about 12% for conferences.
“People laughed at us at the time. Today we have a dynamic events calendar boasting a number of high-profile international events,” she said.
These include the Volvo Ocean Race; the HSBC World Sevens rugby series; the FIA World Rallycross Championship; the Design Indaba; the ABSA Cape Epic; the Cape Town Cycle Tour; the Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon; the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon; World Travel Market (WTM) Africa; the Mining Indaba; and the Cape Town International Jazz Festival.
“Events form a platform for us to build inclusivity, create jobs and develop skills. It is also about supporting community events,” said DeSouza-Zilwa.
“We live in a global village and must continuously strive to build new events into our events strategy. This should happen come rain or come no rain.”
She said the City wants to work with event organisers to boost the events industry even more, especially during the Cape winter months of June to August.
“We aim to create stability in the events industry and made it easier to host events in Cape Town by creating a one-stop shop. We adopted an outside-in approach by looking at the needs of the industry and then align to meet these needs,” she said.
She admitted that the industry faces challenges, like the water crisis, but emphasised that the events industry was one of the first in Cape Town to put water saving mechanisms in place.
In response to a question from the audience, DeSouza-Zilwa said the goal is also to establish and encourage the use of local small businesses in the events industry. She invited local SMEs to contact her in this regard.

HOME AFFAIRS FACES NEW CASE OVER FAILURE TO OPEN REFUGEE OFFICE IN CT

HOME AFFAIRS FACES NEW CASE OVER FAILURE TO OPEN REFUGEE OFFICE IN CT

EWN – 11 May 2018
CAPE TOWN – The Home Affairs Department’s failure to open a Cape Town Refugee Reception office is being challenged in court.
It’s not the first time.
Home Affairs says it’s still waiting on the Department of Public Works to find suitable premises for the office.

In December, the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the department to open an office by the end of March.
The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, the Somali Association of South Africa and the Legal Resources Centre have launched a new case to get the department to comply with an order to open a Refugee Reception office.
Scalabrini’s Miranda Madikane said: “We want to affect the court order and not to punish those responsible for not obeying the law. We’ve asked the High Court to appoint a special master to arbitrate the process.”
The organisations are also seeking a judgment relating to the renewal of asylum permits in Cape Town in cases where applications were lodged in other parts of South Africa.
The Cape Town office has been closed for almost six years and, currently, new asylum seekers cannot apply at Customs House on the Foreshore.
Home Affairs says it’s still waiting on the Department of Public Works to find suitable premises for the office

Spotlight on travel facilitation and security

Spotlight on travel facilitation and security
Apr 18 2018 – Fin24

Cape Town – The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) on Wednesday issued its support for the outcomes of the meeting of G20 tourism in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
This includes recognition that the use of technology, such as biometrics, for travel facilitation and security was vital to sustain the growing numbers of travellers. It could result in the number of jobs created by tourism increasing by more than 7 million over the next ten years.

The “T20″ meeting of tourism ministers of the G20 countries was hosted by Argentina in Buenos Aires around the theme of “Future of Work – sustainable tourism as a driver of employment”.

Speaking at the meeting, Gloria Guevara Manzo, president and CEO of WTTC said: “Given its impressive growth forecasts and high levels of job generation, travel and tourism is a sector which will play an increasing role in inclusive and sustainable development. As the private sector, we want to maximise job creation and are working hard to ensure we have the right engagement, training and career development programmes in place.”

However, WTTC is concerned that the combination of infrastructure capacity constraints and more stringent security requirements for travellers will result in huge inefficiencies across the system and impact tourism growth and job creation in the future.
Research shows that current and future capacity constraints could mean that between 8% and 21% of forecast growth in air travel cannot be supported. According to WTTC data, if this situation is addressed between 7 and 19 million jobs can be created.

Guevara said WTTC is delighted that G20 governments, by means of their delegations at the T20 meeting, have recognised the opportunity of technology to address such constraints, and consider the utilisation of biometrics as a starting point.
“Biometrics has already been identified by the UN as a recommended means of improving security by identifying terrorists and the technologies currently in use have already been seen to increase efficiencies and improve the customer experience. It is by making travel easier that we will meet the future demand for travel and ultimately increase the number of jobs created by the sector,” she said.

Across G20 countries travel and tourism contributes $6.3trn to GDP (9.1% of GDP) and generates 208 million jobs, 1 in 11 of all jobs. The G20 countries form some of the largest inbound and outbound tourism economies, and altogether account for 76% of the world’s travel and tourism GDP.

‘Computer says no to court order’

‘Computer says no to court order’
Orphans in limbo as documents unable to be issued due to IT glitches
– 11 May 2018 – The Herald
The Department of Home Affairs has admitted that a computer problem does not allow it to issue the correct paperwork for undocumented children – even if a judge orders them to do so.
In a heartbreaking case, the matter of two orphans, whose mother brought one of them to South Africa from the Congo and then died here, was once again heard before Judge Glenn Goosen.
The children had been stuck without paperwork for 511 days by yesterday – meaning they cannot be placed in foster care.
In legal documents placed before the court yesterday, officials said that despite being compelled by a court order to do so, they had not been able to assist as their computer system would not allow them to do so.
Counsel for the children, Advocate Lilla Crouse SC, from Legal Aid SA, said the department’s conduct was reprehensible and not in line with its values.
Crouse said: “It is 23 years since the law has changed and the department still has a programme problem.”
Legislation on South African citizenship, residency and travel documents changed in 1995 to amplify, among other things, the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.
Crouse said: “The answer they gave was dismissive to the extreme. [They] hide behind this defective computer programme.
“We have a court order that is now meaningless because it cannot be carried out.”
She asked that Goosen order the department to update its computer programme to bring it in line with the law within three months.
She wants the court to add Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and director-general Mkuseli Apleni to a possible application for contempt of court.
Crouse, assisted by Liesl Fourie from the Refugee Rights Centre at Nelson Mandela University, said documents before the court showed that officials were protecting the minister and director-general, assuring them that they “were safe and they were not in the immediate reach of the court”.
“The highest-ranking officials in the department should be held liable for these human rights abuses,” Crouse argued.
She said as the children had nowhere else to go they were being held in a place of safety alongside children in conflict with the law. “Their lives could be in danger,” she said. Advocate Nazeer Cassim SC, representing the Department of Home Affairs, said he could not quarrel with the frustration of the children’s legal team.
“We are all South Africans here. We know the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba has been giving citizenship to people with the surname Gupta.”
He said he agreed the children should receive emergency exemption status. He said the department had complied with the court order as far as it was able.
The children’s Congolese mother died of Aids-related complications in Port Elizabeth, but social workers have been unable to place the six-year-old boy and his 13-year-old half-sister in foster care, or in a children’s home, because they are undocumented. Following a previous attempt to force Home Affairs to help the children, Judge Elna Revelas declared the failure by the department unconstitutional.
Abraham Hayman, a social worker from the ACVV, said in court papers he had been appointed as the case worker for the children.
Hayman said the girl had been born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when her mother was only 14.
The two travelled to South Africa to look for the mother’s sister, a child soldier who had been forced to flee the DRC.
Hayman said while the mother thought her sister had come to South Africa, she was in fact back in the DRC.
The mother then became involved with a Zimbabwean man and they had a child, the 13-year- old’s half-brother.
The mother was given a handwritten, unabridged birth certificate that did not include the identity of the six-year-old’s father, who died on June 10 2013.
The mother fell ill in 2016 and died of HIV-related complications in August of that year.
Goosen will give judgment within 14 days.

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