Archive from October, 2018

Drone boats filled with explosives are the new weapon in global terrorism

Drone boats filled with explosives are the new weapon in global terrorism
Business Insider – Oct 04, 2018

Drone boats filled with explosives have reportedly been used to launch attacks against Saudi Arabia at sea.
• On Sunday, the Saudi Royal Navy said it intercepted two boats laden with explosives traveling toward the country’s major port of Jazan, located north of Yemen.
• And on Tuesday, Saudi border guards said they rescued a Saudi fishing boat that came under fire from unknown attackers while in Gulf waters.
• Experts have expressed concern over the Yemeni rebel group having access to this remote type of weaponry.

Drone-controlled boats filled with explosives were reportedly used in at least one attempted attack on Saudi Arabia this week.
Colonel Turki Al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Arab coalition in Yemen, claimed that the Saudi Royal Navy intercepted two boats laden with explosives traveling toward the major port of Jazan, located directly north of the country’s border with Yemen.
Al-Malaki said the Navy spotted two boats approaching the port on Sunday morning that appeared to be remotely controlled. The boats, reportedly operated by the Houthi group in Yemen, were destroyed and caused only minor material damage.
He warned that coalition forces “will strike with iron fist all those involved in acts of terrorism.”
This is a pilotless vertical take-off and landing drone. The ‘Cormorant’ can extract battlefield casualties.
“Those hostile acts will not go by without holding the ones executing, plotting and planning them accountable for their actions.”
On Tuesday, Saudi border guards said they rescued a Saudi fishing boat that came under fire from unknown attackers while in Gulf waters, according to Al Arabiya. Border guards said that three fishermen on board were being treated for injuries, and an investigation into the origin of attack was underway.
Over the last year, regional forces reportedly intercepted several drone boat attacks.
In January 2017, Houthi forces struck a Saudi warship using a remote-controlled boat. And in April 2017, Houthi forces attempted to blow up a Saudi Aramco fuel terminal and distribution station in Jazan using a high-speed boat rigged with explosives.
Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander of the Bahrain-based US Fifth Fleet, told Defense News last year that there is concern over the Yemeni rebel group having access to this remote type of weaponry.
“That’s not an easy thing to develop,” he said. “There’s clearly support there coming from others, so that’s problematic,” pointing to production support of the mobile weapons by Iran.
He added that explosive boats create a new category of self-destructive attacks.
“You don’t need suicide attackers to do a suicide-like attack.”
“So it makes that kind of weaponry, which would normally take someone suicidal to use, now able to be used by someone who’s not going to martyr themselves.”

Cybercrime now 55% of gross losses in SA banking industry – report

Cybercrime now 55% of gross losses in SA banking industry – report
Oct 04 2018 – Fin24
than half (55%) of the gross losses due to crime reported to the SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) occur online.
This is according to Sabric’s Digital Banking Crime Statistics report released on Thursday.
Gross losses is a term used in the banking industry to refer to the total loss to the consumer as well as the bank. It, therefore, includes instances where the bank had refunded the client.
Last year 13 438 incidents of cyber crime were reported to Sabric. These crimes were committed across banking apps, online banking and mobile banking. The value of these cyber crimes totalled more than R250m.
So far this year (from January to August) 16 296 incidents have been reported to the value of more than R183m. The number of incidents over this period is 64.3% more compared to the same period last year.
The report also shows that, although the number of reported incidents of cyber crime on banking apps increased by 19.9% to 4 922 over the period from January to August this year, the total value of these incidents doubled to more than R70m compared to the same period last year.
On the other hand, although the number of incidents reported on online banking increased by 43.8% from January to August, the total value decreased by 27.8% to R89.4m compared to the same period last year.
The number of cyber crime incidents reported on mobile banking doubled to 8 607 from January to August this year compared to the same period last year. The total value thereof increased by 41.3% to R23.6m compared to the same period last year.
Fin24 reported in April that cyber incidents are a top concern for the financial services industry, according to the Allianz Risk Barometer 2018.
Close to 2 000 risk experts in 80 countries were surveyed.

Tourism industry slates Home Affairs’ unabridged birth certificate changes

5 October 2018 – Tourism Update
SA Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, today announced a number of changes to make it easier for tourists, business people and academia to come to South Africa.
The SA tourism industry reacted positively to the initial economic recovery plan announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on September 21, anticipating a possible scrapping of the tourism-repressing unabridged birth certificate (UBC) requirement. However, Gigaba’s detailing of the amendments at a media briefing on Tuesday, September 25, has been received with disappointment across the private tourism industry.
The UBC regulation amendments include:
• Instead of requiring all foreign nationals travelling with minors to carry documentation proving parental consent for the minor to travel, “we will rather strongly recommend that travellers carry this documentation”
• Immigration officials will only insist on documentation by exception, for instance high-risk situations, rather than for all travellers
• Rather than denying entry where documentation is absent, travellers will be given an opportunity to prove parental consent
While SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona, says this is the first major key reform in the tourism space as far as immigration is concerned, tourism stakeholders across the industry have voiced strong concerns.
CEO of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa) David Frost, says the industry had expected full clarity on how the regulations would be amended. “Instead, Home Affairs issued an obfuscated message that serves only to confuse travellers. We believe the requirement to produce Unabridged Birth Certificates must be eliminated immediately across the board to ensure South Africa’s competitiveness as a tourism destination and remove any confusion around the requirements for foreign minors travelling to South Africa.”
Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, Interim CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA), concurs, adding that the TBCSA has engaged with government on the negative impact of these regulations, requesting statistics on child trafficking through international airports – which never happened. “The announcement today doesn’t change anything; Home Affairs is once again circling around this issue.”
The airline industry has also expressed its disappointment, with CEO of the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (BARSA), June Crawford, saying that BARSA is concerned at the lack of clear action to address and reverse the negative effects of the unabridged birth certificate requirements, “which the airline and tourism industry has made numerous representations on”, says Crawford, adding that proof of parental consent is still in required for foreign travelling minors.
Otto de Vries, CEO of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (Asata), believes the UBC requirement has a negative impact on South Africa’s substantial VFR (Visiting Friends and Relatives) inbound tourist arrivals, with inbound VFR traffic to South Africa accounting for as much as 3.3 million arrivals in 2016/2017.
Beverley Schafer, Standing Committee Chairperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism, and Agriculture; and Democratic Alliance (DA) Western Cape Spokesperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism, and Agriculture, comments that while the DA in the Western Cape welcomes the relaxation of UBCs for foreign national minors, she is concerned about the understaffing of immigration counters at Cape Town International Airport.

Fewer immigrants with tech skills are being turned away from the UK

02 October 2018 – IT Pro
The government’s move to remove healthcare workers from the cap had a big impact
More IT workers from overseas were able to take up jobs in the UK after the government relaxed the rules for skilled workers to enter the country last year.
The number of people refused entry into the UK after being offered jobs reduced by 68% after home secretary Sajid Javid removed the cap for healthcare workers – a sector that was previously taking up half of all allowed persons.
Because so many doctors and nurses were previously being allowed in due to high demand, it meant there were not enough available spaces for workers skilled in other areas, such as technology, to come to the UK.
The Campaign for Science and Engineering (Case) revealed that 6,080 people applying for visas in the UK were refused entry between December 2017 and March 2018, despite them meeting all the criteria required because the cap of allowed persons had been reached.
It filed a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the government, asking for refusal figures in its quest to get the caps abolished altogether.
Every year, there’s a cap of 20,700 applied to the number of skilled workers across various sectors allowed into the UK. This is split into months to ensure those arriving outside of the EU don’t fill jobs that could be taken by UK or EU citizens instead.
The number of skilled technology workers refused a visa reached its highest in June 2018 when 541 people were not allowed to take up the job offers because there was not enough capacity.
Case estimated that to pass entry during this period, applicants would need to have an annual salary of around £60,000 a year – twice that if the official requirements.
The cap was removed for healthcare workers the following month and this is when refusals dropped significantly – down to just 171.
In the following month, the cap wasn’t reached, so all those ticking the boxes for Tier 2 visas were allowed entry into the UK.
“We want to make sure that any future migration system does not hold itself to an arbitrary cap,” Case said in its findings. “The issues that the UK has had in recent months because of the cap should be a lesson to policymakers in the Home Office and members of Government.
“We will be working to ensure that UK immigration policy supports research & innovation, will facilitate frictionless movement, have proportionate system rules, be founded on robust evidence and fit for the future.”

Beware the new migrant legislation

05 Oct 2018 – Mail & Guardian
Changes to new immigrant legislation could mean that many long-term residents are no longer eligible to remain in South Africa.
All indications are that the new law may be implemented in the next few months, but many provisions are vague and potentially ill-considered.
The new white paper on international migration, which appears to be close to adoption, could significantly change the landscape.
The department of home affairs has a history of making significant legislative changes with little or no notice. The existing legislation was implemented in 2014 with only one working day’s notice, with the result that even officials at home affairs did not fully understand the changes. Inconsistent interpretation of the law resulted in the wrongful rejection of many applications for residency or citizenship in South Africa.
The new white paper could enact legislation with little notice in a matter of months, and even greater inconsistency in enforcing its provisions is likely because of a lack of clarity in several areas.
The white paper states that the aim of the new policies is to “increase South Africa’s international competitiveness for critical skills and investment in such a manner that it contributes to the achievement of national development goals”.
The white paper proposes that the granting of citizenship to foreigners be considered as exceptional and require an executive decision of the minister and calls for a points-based system for permanent residence and citizenship.
But the white paper is dangerously vague about who will qualify for permanent residence and citizenship. For example, there are no indications of exactly how such a points system will work. And if the aim is to grant permanent residence and citizenship only on the basis of economic contribution to the country, what will this mean for children, pensioners and working-class citizens?
The white paper says that residence will no longer lead to citizenship and the number of years spent in the country will not qualify a person to apply for naturalisation. Indeed, it proposes replacing a permanent residence permit with a long-term residence visa, which should be renewed at intervals. It also proposes a review of refugee residence visas.
Clearly, the white paper aims to protect the border and the citizens of the country, but you can’t simply lock down a border. Foreign investment and skills are important for economic development, so policy has to achieve a balance between national security and economic development.
No one knows how the government intends to assess criteria such as an applicant’s contribution to the economy, so ideally the minister should hold discussions with stakeholders to elaborate on these issues.
The white paper does not appear to recognise how much of a deterrent it is to skilled foreigners to know that, no matter how long they have lived in South Africa, and no matter how much they have contributed, they cannot become permanent residents or citizens.
In addition to affecting economic development, these ill-defined changes could cause significant personal upheaval and chaos for families living in South Africa. What will happen to refugees who have lived and worked in South Africa for years, have their families here and have nothing to return to? What will happen to those who have retained foreign citizenship for decades?
My father, born in Portugal, has lived in South Africa for more than 40 years as a permanent resident. He worked for years as a specialist underwater welder, ran a mechanical engineering business employing South Africans, paid his taxes and raised his South African-born children here. Kicking foreigners like him out of South Africa hurts both South Africa and the foreigners. South Africa loses skilled, hard-working, law-abiding individuals it desperately needs; the foreigners lose the homes that they have built over many years or decades.
The minister should, instead, be opening the doors to citizenship to foreigners. Why aren’t we offering wealthy foreigners the opportunity to acquire citizenship in exchange for an investment or donation as is common in many other countries?
It is only by productive and dignified engagement that litigation will dissipate, and through proper partnerships with all stakeholders and the upskilling of home affairs officials, especially on the law, that foreigners and South Africans will be better served, without fear or favour or conflict.
I have no doubt that the president has spent countless hours putting together his “package of reforms” to kickstart our economy, but I urge him and our minister of home affairs to talk to the stakeholders on the ground, such as me, to discover the real barriers in the way of much-needed foreign investment and skills streaming into our country to catalyse economic growth and job creation.
With possible implementation looming and little word on how the white paper’s aims will be enforced, I believe that anyone intending to apply for permanent residence or citizenship should do so now. It’s best to err on the side of caution because it is not clear what the new legislation will mean for applicants in future.

Making a case for electronic visas

Making a case for electronic visas
25 Sep 2018 – Tourism Update
The failure to implement electronic visas will continue to cost the sector by making it more difficult to attract visitors to South Africa. Figures provided since the rigorous and ludicrous visa regulations were introduced is proof of the devastating impact it has on the South African economy.
The total revenue for all air ticketing sales to SA dropped by 40% for June 2015 compared with June 2014.
The impact of the new visa regulations on the South African economy in 2014 was a negative R2.6 billion (€153.38 million) and the loss of more than 5 800 jobs with further rises expected for this year, according to a report commissioned by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa.
The report at the time predicted that in 2015, the number of foreign tourists lost due to changes in the immigration regulations would likely increase to 100 000, with a loss of 9 300 jobs and the total nett loss to the South African GDP of around R4.1 billion (€241.86 million).
Our tourism industry is still recovering from the disastrous visa regulations debacle, which, according to the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa), resulted in an estimated R7.5 billion (€445.7 million) loss to the tourism economy.
Make no mistake, these regulations, coupled with the superfluous unabridged birth certificate requirement, will continue to hurt our tourism industry if we don’t implement measures such as electronic visas that will make it easier and safer for tourists to apply, scrap the superfluous unabridged birth certificate requirement and adopt visa waivers for our key source market countries.
We need to streamline tourist facilitation to our country to make it easier for travellers to select South Africa as a country of choice when it comes to travel and trade.
With the rand at its lowest point in years, South Africa’s tourism industry should be thriving as a destination for foreign travellers – but, in spite of this, the government’s visa regulations continue to make it difficult for tourists to select South Africa as a destination due to its cumbersome visa application processes.
I have submitted several motions in Parliament calling for the introduction of e-visas, listing the myriad of benefits, whilst also highlighting the industry’s support for their introduction.
There is no denying that implementing an e-visa system, whether on a global or regional basis faces bureaucratic impediments and would require a substantial investment to begin with – but the long-term benefits for the traveller and the country as a whole mean the end justifies the means. It would seem that the department is finally starting to see this.
If we implement e-visas, we will promote tourism, grow tourism spend and develop the economy to create more jobs.
Herewith the benefits of e-visas for visitors to South Africa for these simple facts: The introduction of electronic visas will not only provide a real means for protecting jobs in tourism, but present significant advantages by cutting turnaround times for the issuing of travel documentation and are, in fact, more secure than existing permits.
Electronic visas have also proven to be highly effective in comparable countries such as Turkey, which is widely regarded to have the best international practice when it comes to visa applications.
The use of technology in tourism is well established. For example, where electronic visas have been implemented, they have proved to be extremely effective, so it makes perfect sense to implement them here, given the recent visa debacle in South Africa.
With an increase in the demand for international travel worldwide, it is essential to have effective systems that simplify the visa application process. Thus, by implementing an e-visa system the SA government can prevent excessive waiting time at visa centres, reduce the workload of staff working at airports, embassies and consulates, and provide easier facilitation for tourists and business travellers.
The Turkish government implemented an e-visa application system in 2015, and within a short period of implementing the system, experienced an increase in visa applications, going from a weekly average of 400 applications to receiving more than 1,500 in just a few days.
Having due regard to the above, it makes sense to implement e-visas because it will reduce time and money by cutting the application and issuing process and, as a result, our country could see an increase in visa applications as well as the number of visitors, tourism spend and foreign trade revenue.

Nurse foils abduction attempt at KZN hospital

Two unknown men donning department of home affairs name tags gained access to the hospital’s maternity ward with the intention of kidnapping mothers and newborns.
A nurse has been praised for intercepting an attempted abduction of mothers and their babies at Addington Hospital in Durban, reports Zululand Observer.
It is reported that on September 22, two unknown men with department of home affairs name tags gained access to the hospital’s maternity ward and told nursing staff they were collecting mothers and their newborn babies.
The men pretended they would help the mothers register their babies as part of Government’s campaign to register all births within the first 30 days.
The nurse in charge at the time refused to release the mothers and their babies and the men left shortly afterwards.
KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo described the incident as shocking and extremely concerning.
“This has all the makings of attempted human trafficking,” Dhlomo said.
“The department of health has a partnership agreement with the department of home affairs, whereby we run an online birth certificate registration system.
“This system ensures that all children born at major hospitals designated for specialised maternal and child care, such as Addington, leave the hospital with a birth certificate. This programme was launched by the minister of home affairs at Addington Hospital in 2014. So we are saying that mothers don’t need anyone to help them in this regard.”
He applauded the sister in charge of the ward at the time of the incident for following her instincts.
“It is reprehensible that people would go to such lengths, reproducing departmental name tags to commit something so heinous. The pain and suffering that could have resulted from this is unimaginable.
“We urge all security personnel, nursing staff, and mothers themselves at all our healthcare facilities to be extra vigilant because it is clear that there are unscrupulous people who are out to cause harm,” he concluded.
The department said relevant authorities have been notified of the attempted abduction.