Archive from October, 2018

Oppenheimers to explain private terminal agreement at OR Tambo International

Oppenheimers to explain private terminal agreement at OR Tambo International
29 October 2018 – Business LIVE
Billionaire businessman Nicky Oppenheimer and his son‚ Jonathan‚ have been summoned to appear in parliament on Tuesday to explain how their company Fireblade Aviation came to operate a private terminal at OR Tambo International Airport without an official agreement granting them permission to do so.
Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs is seeking clarity on the drawn-out matter between Fireblade and minister Malusi Gigaba.
In early 2016‚ Gigaba granted Fireblade approval to offer an ad hoc international customs and immigration service at the airport. This is according to papers the company filed in the Pretoria High Court in November 2016‚ after Gigaba tried to backtrack on the agreement. In October 2017 the high court ruled that Gigaba had lied under oath and violated the constitution in reneging on the agreement‚ and that Fireblade could continue operating its VIP facility at the airport.
Gigaba appealed the ruling and concurrently launched an application in the Constitutional Court. This was dismissed with costs in March‚ with the Constitutional Court finding that the appeals court had to rule on the matter first. That same month‚ appeal court judge Malcolm Wallis dismissed Gigaba’s appeal‚ saying: “The minister cannot rely on his own unlawful attempt to circumvent the decision he had lawfully made to grant Fireblade’s application.”
Now the parliamentary committee is trying to make sense of the matter. Committee chair Hlomani Chauke said on Sunday that Gigaba had informed the committee that he would again approach the Constitutional Court. “We don’t know what is the process and what it is that is being appealed‚” he said. “Those clarities are very important.”
The committee is also looking to determine what effect the arrangement has had on the state’s coffers. An oversight visit to Fireblade’s offices in August found no record of a written agreement between the parties that delineates‚ for example‚ responsibility for the civil servants deployed to the terminal.
Chauke said this meant home affairs had not provided in its budget for staffing the terminal. He said other state departments‚ including health‚ the SA Revenue Service‚ and agriculture‚ forestry & fisheries‚ had also deployed officials to the terminal.
“We want a full understanding and to make sure every cent of the state is accounted for‚” he said. “As a committee representing parliament we feel very strongly that there must be accountability and clear agreements.”

Government to appeal decision on Muslim marriages

Government to appeal decision on Muslim marriages
Monday, October 22, 2018 – SA Gov News
Government has taken a decision to appeal the judgment handed down by the Western Cape High Court on Muslim marriages.
The case was brought by the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) and Ruwayda Esau.
The WLC had argued that by not recognising Muslim marriages under common law, the law ignored the reality that women often lack bargaining power in marriages and were not afforded legal protection.
The judgment, which was handed down on 31 August 2018, ordered the executive and Parliament to pass legislation providing for the recognition and dissolution of marriages concluded in terms of Islamic Law.
In the ruling, the full bench gave government two years within which to enact such legislation.
In the absence of this legislation being passed, the full bench has crafted an order which will then regulate the recognition and dissolution of marriages concluded in terms of Islamic Law.
On Friday, the Justice Department announced that a decision was taken to appeal the judgment following consultation between the President, the Ministry of Justice and other members of the executive.
The decision to appeal was taken for three primary reasons.
“First, Mrs R Esau has lodged an appeal with the Constitutional Court because the full bench did not give her immediate relief in a marriage that has already been dissolved in terms of Islamic Law. The Women’s Legal Centre has not lodged a similar appeal,” said Department of Justice spokesperson, Mukoni Ratshitanga.
Second, the full bench decision has acknowledged that government is already in the process of researching an omnibus law that will deal with the recognition and dissolution of all religious marriages.
“Despite acknowledging this, the full bench has nevertheless ordered the executive and parliament to enact and pass legislation dealing with marriages under Islamic Law and to do so within a specific period,” said Ratshitanga.
The third reason, is the effect that the decision has immediate implications on all other religious marriages which have not been registered as secular marriages in terms of the Marriage Act.
“In short, the judgment impacts beyond the sphere of marriages concluded under Islamic Law. For these primary reasons, the President and the Minister of Justice have taken a decision to appeal the judgment of the full bench.
“They will do so upon the basis that they remain committed to complete the process that they have already commenced, and that is, to pass one law governing all religious marriages,” said Ratshitanga.
According to Ratshitanga, an appeal court decision will also bring certainty on certain fundamental constitutional principles, such as:
• the separation of powers and the extent to which courts may order government to pass legislation and to do so on a specific issue;
• the issue of inequality and discrimination of women generally and particularly those in religious marriages which have not been registered as secular marriages; and
• the permissible powers of the executive, and in turn, the legislature, in fulfilling their constitutional role in our democracy by determining how best to address such matters.
“For these reasons, the President and the Minister of Justice will shortly deliver an appeal against the full bench decision in both matters and will oppose the appeal of Mrs R Essau,” said Ratshitanga. – SAnews.gov.za

Home Affairs reopens refugee office closed in 2011

Home Affairs reopens refugee office closed in 2011
2018-10-23 – Groundup
The Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Office was officially reopened on Friday by Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba.
The province has been without such a facility since the Department of Home Affairs unilaterally closed it in 2011, according to a GroundUp report.
Following years of legal action, public outcry and civil society activism, the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the department in March 2015 to reopen the facility by July 1, 2015.
Years after that court deadline, the facility has at last reopened at new premises in Sydenham.
“The new office will provide adequate accommodation with which to extend better services to persons with legitimate claims. It has a streamlined process flow; open spaces; baby-changing stations; and multiple ablution facilities. Provision has also been made to accommodate the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs, Appeal Board hearings and immigration inspectorate facilities,” the department announced.
“It was a very long and bruising battle,” secretary general of the Somali Association of South Africa, Mohammed Kat, said. “We won all the court cases we brought against them, but the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) kept appealing our victory until they reached the end of the tether. They had no choice but to abide by the Supreme Court of Appeal decision.”
Although he was happy refugees and asylum seekers would no longer have to travel to other provinces to apply for permits, Kat said the reopening was a bittersweet victory because a lot of time and resources had been spent fighting the government in court.
‘We were forced to shut down’
The Somali Association of South Africa, together with the Project for Conflict Resolution and Development, and aided by Lawyers for Human Rights, took the matter to court in 2011. The court ruled that the closure was unlawful but DHA appealed the decision.
“We were forced to shut down the office [in 2011] because of endemic corruption that had taken root at the office,” said Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Fatima Chohan. “The office was being abused by human trafficking syndicates who were bringing in migrants who were not refugees.”
Chohan said businesses around the old refugee office had a court order to close the old office because they said it was a nuisance to their businesses. She said the landlord also refused to renew the lease agreement for the building they were renting.
“The department could not cope with the existing budget but we had to abide by the court’s decision. The courts had spoken, we had to do it,” she said.
Minister Gigaba, who was there to reopen the centre, responded to two questions before an SABC reporter asked him about allegations of his involvement in the department’s procurement process.
“The minister does not deal with the procurement process. That is the question the director general can answer,” said Gigaba.
Gigaba spoke isiZulu to the reporter apparently to placate him. When the reporter persisted, spokesperson Thabo Mokgola stopped questions.
The Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Office is located at 10A Gibaud Road, Telkom Building, Sydenham, Lakeside.

Fuelling the fires of the tourism economy

22 Oct 2018 – Biz Community

Behind the scenes in tourism, an epic struggle is taking place: for industry professionals, the rising costs of fuel and other commodities are putting pressure on their businesses. Besides the challenge in business, locals are also finding it harder to budget for travel for the same reasons. The rand has been on a rollercoaster in 2018, leaving the entire economy in a precarious situation.

The tourism industry is no holiday

The economic stimulus package presented by President Ramaphosa sounds like it has potential, with tourism also garnering attention, but the concept of tourism isn’t an abstract one. Although some may consider it to be all about taking a break and chilling at the beach or in the wilderness, the entire sector is inextricably interwoven with the entire economy, with sectors as disparate as retail and even construction linked to it. Add to that supply chains and the stifling increase in commodities, vat, fuel from a supplier (industry) point of view, weighing the cost of doing business against a demand from the consumers who are also under pressure becomes problematic. Do tourism businesses add to the challenge consumers face and risk haemorrhaging more visitors?

Domestic tourism decline has been the biggest reason for the recent downturn in tourism numbers recently, the industry is on tenterhooks ahead of High Season, a period that traditionally enabled tourism businesses to balance their books and push ahead into the following year.
South Africa is running on empty

According to Bloomberg, South Africa’s other economic issues meant it is now one of the most expensive places in the world to be a motorist, stating that this challenge is exacerbated by how little income locals earn, and that we now spend more of our pay cheques filling up than any other nation except Mexico. Supply constraints from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Venezuela’s current political crisis, and renewed tensions between the US and Iran are behind the metaphorical “sneeze” that is giving South Africa a cold, bearing in mind that we are a net importer of fuel.

In the interim, there don’t appear to be many solutions. The choices are to bite the bullet and continue travelling or to remain at home and to enjoy exploring locally – a staycation. Travellers can make use of value-added offerings such as loyalty programmes – indeed, some loyalty programmes are directly linked to fuel – and tourism businesses would do well to consider such value-adds that don’t negatively impact profit margins.

According to Stats SA, locals do prioritise travel, even during a recession, so this is a hint that we will continue to see tourism taking place. The exchange rate is likely to put pressure on locals to travel locally rather than internationally to stretch their holiday bucks further, and the exchange rate remains favourable to international visitors.

Those who feel the rising costs of doing business most are the ones we’re looking to for job creation: SMEs run by entrepreneurs. It’s no secret that these businesses are under immense financial constraints, particularly in their early phase. These SMEs need to navigate their finances carefully and to take into account that there will be negative influences on their cash flow, or risk running out of money and having to close shop. The president is looking to tourism for increased contributions to the GDP and to the pool of jobs available, and he’s aware that SMEs will be the environment that most facilitates both of those hopes coming to fruition, but it’s not enough to sit back and hope the plan works itself out.
Sharing the load, adding value

Tourism businesses, whether SMEs or large enterprise ones, need economic sandbagging at this time, with support from government. We need to collaborate, partner and support one another – perhaps we can offset costs by sharing the load and adding value for visitors in this way, offering more experiences.

Not everyone can be an economist or an astute financial manager, but this is always a factor in weighing up a strategy that leads to profitability. The tourism professional must add this to a portfolio of skills to survive the lean times.

We believe that this sector is resilient enough to push through and achieve steady growth, and that visitors will continue to regard our attractions and experiences as world class, let’s ensure that we endure and press ahead despite the many challenges faced.

Government to appeal decision on Muslim marriages

Government to appeal decision on Muslim marriages
Monday, October 22, 2018 – SA Gov News
Government has taken a decision to appeal the judgment handed down by the Western Cape High Court on Muslim marriages.
The case was brought by the Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) and Ruwayda Esau.
The WLC had argued that by not recognising Muslim marriages under common law, the law ignored the reality that women often lack bargaining power in marriages and were not afforded legal protection.
The judgment, which was handed down on 31 August 2018, ordered the executive and Parliament to pass legislation providing for the recognition and dissolution of marriages concluded in terms of Islamic Law.
In the ruling, the full bench gave government two years within which to enact such legislation.
In the absence of this legislation being passed, the full bench has crafted an order which will then regulate the recognition and dissolution of marriages concluded in terms of Islamic Law.
On Friday, the Justice Department announced that a decision was taken to appeal the judgment following consultation between the President, the Ministry of Justice and other members of the executive.
The decision to appeal was taken for three primary reasons.
“First, Mrs R Esau has lodged an appeal with the Constitutional Court because the full bench did not give her immediate relief in a marriage that has already been dissolved in terms of Islamic Law. The Women’s Legal Centre has not lodged a similar appeal,” said Department of Justice spokesperson, Mukoni Ratshitanga.
Second, the full bench decision has acknowledged that government is already in the process of researching an omnibus law that will deal with the recognition and dissolution of all religious marriages.
“Despite acknowledging this, the full bench has nevertheless ordered the executive and parliament to enact and pass legislation dealing with marriages under Islamic Law and to do so within a specific period,” said Ratshitanga.
The third reason, is the effect that the decision has immediate implications on all other religious marriages which have not been registered as secular marriages in terms of the Marriage Act.
“In short, the judgment impacts beyond the sphere of marriages concluded under Islamic Law. For these primary reasons, the President and the Minister of Justice have taken a decision to appeal the judgment of the full bench.
“They will do so upon the basis that they remain committed to complete the process that they have already commenced, and that is, to pass one law governing all religious marriages,” said Ratshitanga.
According to Ratshitanga, an appeal court decision will also bring certainty on certain fundamental constitutional principles, such as:
• the separation of powers and the extent to which courts may order government to pass legislation and to do so on a specific issue;
• the issue of inequality and discrimination of women generally and particularly those in religious marriages which have not been registered as secular marriages; and
• the permissible powers of the executive, and in turn, the legislature, in fulfilling their constitutional role in our democracy by determining how best to address such matters.
“For these reasons, the President and the Minister of Justice will shortly deliver an appeal against the full bench decision in both matters and will oppose the appeal of Mrs R Essau,” said Ratshitanga. – SAnews.gov.za

Spousal visas wrangle heads to the Constitutional Court

Spousal visas wrangle heads to the Constitutional Court
22 October 2018, IOL

Spousal visa challenge to head to the Constitutional Court.
Should foreigners who marry in South Africa before the expiry of their three-month visitor visas be allowed to regularise their stay?
In papers filed at the Constitutional Court, Home Affairs bluntly says “no” and maintains that allowing this would be an abuse of immigration laws on a “drastic scale”.
“Individuals will be able to travel to South Africa on a visitor’s visa and be immediately entitled to stay permanently at the expiry of the three months on the basis of an alleged spousal relationship,” the department’s acting chief director for permits, Rodney Marhule, said in the papers.
Marhule’s affidavit was filed as a response to an application by two Cape Town couples who are up in arms over regulations that rule out their chances to acquire spousal visas.
Home Affairs required the partners to travel back to their countries and obtain new visas there, something which the applicants maintained separated their families.
James Tomlinson, a British citizen and permanent resident of South Africa, and his wife Sarah Nandutu, a Ugandan citizen, make up the first set of applicants in the matter.
South African citizen Christakis Ttofalli and his life partner Illias Demerlis, a Greek citizen, were the other applicants.
Tomlinson married Nandutu two months after she entered the country in 2015 on a visitor’s visa.
Rejection of Nandutu’s spousal visa application also meant their son’s birth could not be registered. He cannot apply for a passport or an identity number.
The child joins thousands born in the country but rendered stateless.
Ttofalli got into a “life partnership” and started cohabiting with Demerlis within three months of her arrival from Greece.
Gary Simon Eisenberg, the attorney for all four applicants, said in the papers his clients sought to be allowed to obtain spousal visas without travelling back to their countries.
“The application aims to ensure that the applicants’ right to enter and maintain familial relations is not violated by requiring spouses to leave their families and apply for spousal visas from abroad.
“The applicants submit that the regulation constitutes an unjustifiable limitation to their right to dignity,” Eisenberg said. “It requires a spouse to leave the Republic and their family for an unspecified amount of time.”
He said it was also unclear how accepting these applications from within South Africa was more inconvenient than processing them via foreign embassies.
“The applicants’ familial relations should not be at risk just to make bureaucracy run smoothly,” said Eisenberg.
But Marhule said Home Affairs’ regulations were justified and were meant to prevent the defrauding of immigration processes.
“The department has previously allowed individuals on visitor visas to change (to spousal visas) inside the Republic, and that this led to widespread fraud and abuse of the system.
“The department has tried less restrictive means, and they had the effect of threatening the security of the Republic’s borders,” Marhule said.
Makgakga Kgwadi, the Constitutional Court’s registrar, has informed the parties that the matter will be heard in due time

Spousal visas wrangle heads to the Constitutional Court

22 October 2018, IOL
Spousal visa challenge to head to the Constitutional Court.
Should foreigners who marry in South Africa before the expiry of their three-month visitor visas be allowed to regularise their stay?
In papers filed at the Constitutional Court, Home Affairs bluntly says “no” and maintains that allowing this would be an abuse of immigration laws on a “drastic scale”.
“Individuals will be able to travel to South Africa on a visitor’s visa and be immediately entitled to stay permanently at the expiry of the three months on the basis of an alleged spousal relationship,” the department’s acting chief director for permits, Rodney Marhule, said in the papers.
Marhule’s affidavit was filed as a response to an application by two Cape Town couples who are up in arms over regulations that rule out their chances to acquire spousal visas.
Home Affairs required the partners to travel back to their countries and obtain new visas there, something which the applicants maintained separated their families.
James Tomlinson, a British citizen and permanent resident of South Africa, and his wife Sarah Nandutu, a Ugandan citizen, make up the first set of applicants in the matter.
South African citizen Christakis Ttofalli and his life partner Illias Demerlis, a Greek citizen, were the other applicants.
Tomlinson married Nandutu two months after she entered the country in 2015 on a visitor’s visa.
Rejection of Nandutu’s spousal visa application also meant their son’s birth could not be registered. He cannot apply for a passport or an identity number.
The child joins thousands born in the country but rendered stateless.
Ttofalli got into a “life partnership” and started cohabiting with Demerlis within three months of her arrival from Greece.
Gary Simon Eisenberg, the attorney for all four applicants, said in the papers his clients sought to be allowed to obtain spousal visas without travelling back to their countries.
“The application aims to ensure that the applicants’ right to enter and maintain familial relations is not violated by requiring spouses to leave their families and apply for spousal visas from abroad.
“The applicants submit that the regulation constitutes an unjustifiable limitation to their right to dignity,” Eisenberg said. “It requires a spouse to leave the Republic and their family for an unspecified amount of time.”
He said it was also unclear how accepting these applications from within South Africa was more inconvenient than processing them via foreign embassies.
“The applicants’ familial relations should not be at risk just to make bureaucracy run smoothly,” said Eisenberg.
But Marhule said Home Affairs’ regulations were justified and were meant to prevent the defrauding of immigration processes.
“The department has previously allowed individuals on visitor visas to change (to spousal visas) inside the Republic, and that this led to widespread fraud and abuse of the system.
“The department has tried less restrictive means, and they had the effect of threatening the security of the Republic’s borders,” Marhule said.
Makgakga Kgwadi, the Constitutional Court’s registrar, has informed the parties that the matter will be heard in due time

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