Archive from May, 2019

Woman told to go to Zimbabwe to get her South African-born child’s visas

David Hlabane of Home Affairs says: “For children born in South Africa and have never travelled out of South Africa, the [Zimbabwean] parent should visit a VFS office in the country to apply for a temporary residence visa … Our policy does not allow them to change status from visitors to any visa while still in South Africa. This also applies to the SA-born child who left SA and re-entered SA on a visitor’s visa.”
Since 2008, Melody* has been living and working in South Africa. She is legally in the country with a Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP), but her two children need legal status. The South African authorities say she has to return to Zimbabwe in order to apply for what is known as an “accompanying visa” for her children.

She is a domestic worker and it will be very expensive for her. It may also mean she has to break up her family, at least temporarily. She might even risk losing her job altogether as she only gets three-weeks annual leave in December.

“It takes six to eight weeks for the visas to be processed. I cannot leave my children in Zimbabwe,” she says.

Melody’s two-year-old was born in South Africa but he accompanied her to Zimbabwe on her annual leave last year. Her seven-year-old was born in Zimbabwe and she has applied for his birth certificate and passport at the Zimbabwean Consulate in Cape Town, a costly and bureaucratic process in itself.
David Hlabane, media manager at the Department of Home Affairs, confirmed that Melody must apply through the South African Embassy in Zimbabwe.

On 30 January 2019, Melody collected her ZEP at the Cape Town VFS (visa services) office, and she was told she needed to go to Zimbabwe to apply for an accompanying visa for her children. She said there were many parents at VFS in the same situation.

Tendai Bhiza of PASSOP (People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty) said, “Where will she get the money to go back to Zimbabwe? Her children will miss school lessons … As long as the children are in the country they should be allowed to apply for the visas within South Africa. They have the right to their families.”

* Although Melody’s real name is known to GroundUp and Home Affairs, she asked us to use a pseudonym to protect the identity of her children who are at school.

Correction: The birth circumstances of Melody’s two and seven-year-old were reversed in error when the story was initially published. It has been corrected: her two-year-old was born in South Africa; her seven-year-old was born in Zimbabwe.

Macron: Schengen Area No Longer Works – Refoundation Is Indispensable

The French President asserted during a press conference at the end of the Great National Debate on Thursday that the Schengen Area no longer works and that refoundation is indispensable.
After the three-month national debate initiative to appease protesters from the yellow vests movement, the French president held a press conference at the Elyse Palace, the first in his two years long presidency.
During his speech, Macron talked about the Schengen Zone and migration to the EU as well.
“First at the European level, we decided to have common borders; the famous Schengen area with the rules of the Dublin agreement. It does not work anymore.,” he said in front of tens of French and European journalists.
Macron also said that to him, the migration issue is the second biggest challenge for Europe, after climate. He insisted that Europe must profoundly refound its development policy and our migration policy.
“Europe, to which I believe, is a strong sovereign Europe… it is also a Europe that keeps its borders. Which protects them. It is a Europe that has a well-founded and common right of asylum and where responsibility goes with solidarity. It is on these bases that Schengen must be reshaped, even if it means a Schengen with fewer states. I do not want to have in the Schengen states that say I am (part of Schengen) when it comes to freedom of movement, but I do not want to be in when it comes to sharing the burden,” he said.
“This re-foundation is indispensable,” he said suggesting that some of the member countries who are not contributing in migration issues should be excluded from the area.
Previously in March, through an open letter addressed to the citizens of Europe and published in newspapers in all 28 EU countries, Macron has called for a “European Renaissance”, proposing Schengen reforms.
Macron is not the first person to suggest that the Schengen Area should shrink. In December last year the Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has asserted that the Schengen Area should expel the Visegrad group – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia – for showing no solidarity in the management of migration.
Whereas in December 2018, Michael called the alliance of the Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban and the Italian Home Affairs Minister Matteo Salvini “schizophrenic and hypocritical” accusing them of instrumentalizing the migration dossier and to not resolving it.

SAA launches direct service to Guangzhou, China

South African Airways will launch direct flights between Johannesburg and Guangzhou on September 18.
SAA will be the only carrier operating a direct service between Johannesburg and Guangzhou, with the flight operating three times a week with a flight time of 13 hours and 40 minutes.
The flights will complement SAA’s service four times a week service to Hong Kong. An Airbus A340-300 will operate both the Guangzhou and Hong Kong routes.
Guangzhou flight schedule:
Flight SA288 will operate on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. It will depart Johannesburg at 19h25 and arrive in Guangzhou at 15h05 the following day. Return flight SA289 will operate on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. It will depart Guangzhou at 22h15 and arrive in Johannesburg at 05h30 the following day.
Hong Kong flight schedule:
Flight SA286 will operate on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. It will depart Johannesburg at 16h45 and arrive in Hong Kong at 12h40 the next day. Return flight SA287 will operate on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, departing Hong Kong at 23h55 and arriving in Johannesburg at 07h05 the next day.
Guangzhou’s extensive fast train network connects the city with important destinations in China within one to three hours of SAA’s arrival and departure time. Travelling time on the train between Guangzhou and Hong Kong is 45 minutes.
SAA is also negotiating a codeshare agreement with Hong Kong Airlines, anticipated to be in place this financial year, giving travellers further options beyond Hong Kong. Hong Kong Airlines will codeshare on SAA’s Hong Kong-Johannesburg sector and provide feeder traffic from Japan, Korea, Philippines and China

Namibia digs in on damaging UBC regs lifted in SA

As South Africa finally eases its unpopular inbound unabridged birth certificate (UBC) requirements for minors, which have been detrimental to tourism, Namibia is now reinforcing the implementation of UBC requirements for minors travelling to and from its borders.
The Namibian Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration has warned, in a new official release sent out on April 24, that children under the age of 18 travelling to and from Namibia must carry original or certified full birth certificates in addition to their passports.
The South African travel and tourism industry has been fighting against this very requirement for three years. The industry’s victory in November, when the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) finally eased the documentary requirements for foreign children entering South Africa, was short-lived when the DHA immediately issued a contradictory travel advisory that caused airlines to continue denying boarding to minors without certificates for five months after the change was published in the Government Gazette.
However June Crawford, CEO of the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (Barsa) confirmed this week that Iata was now advising check-in staff not to request birth certificates from minors who have South African visas or who are exempt from visas if travelling with their parents with the same surname. This change came about after the DHA issued a new travel advisory on April 2, which clearly and unambiguously states that only a passport is needed for children under 18 if they travel with parents on a visa-exempt passport. Most of SA’s major inbound source markets are visa-exempt, including the US, UK and most of Europe.
Otto de Vries, CEO of Asata, said the UBC policy had been detrimental to tourism in South Africa from both an inbound and an outbound perspective. “We strongly advise that policies that require families to carry UBCs are rescinded and rebuilt from the ground up. We encourage discussions between the public and private sector so we can try to understand the concerns of government around safety and security, while also looking at the needs of the travel and tourism sector. This is the only way we will be able to build a meaningful travel culture in our country,” said Otto.
Although the Namibian ministry’s statement (which says incidences and threats of child trafficking are on the rise), was dated April 24, PR officer for the Namibian Ministry of Home Affairs, Sakeus Kadhikwa, told Tourism Update that the requirement had actually been in effect since 1993 and fell under Immigration Control Act 7, 1993. He said the information had been released again in order to make public aware of the ministry’s requirements and advise them in terms of regulations.
The Namibian release also states:
*Adults travelling internationally with children who are not their biological offspring are advised to provide an affidavit giving consent for travel from the child’s biological parents or legal guardians.
* If a child is travelling with only one parent, the other parent must provide consent for the child to travel with the parent in question. If one parent is deceased, a copy of a death certificate of the deceased parent should be provided.
*An unaccompanied minor travelling to or from Namibia is also required to produce a letter or affidavit as proof of consent to travel, from one or both parents or legal guardians. A letter from the person who is to receive the child, containing the residential address and contact details where the child will be residing; a copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child; and the contact details of the parents or legal guardians of the child must also be provided.
An agent source has confirmed that entries in Timatic reflect the same text regarding immigration/emigration for Namibia.

Ramaphosa’s Hard Choice: a Cabinet to Lift South African Economy

African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s triumph in guiding his African National Congress to a sixth straight election victory has left him with an even more formidable challenge: to pick a cabinet that can dismantle a shadow state of corruption and revive the flagging economy.
His window of opportunity to install an administration free of ministers tainted by graft and to impose tough economic reforms may not remain open for long. The ruling party’s 5 percentage-point drop in support in the May 8 election from 2014 — its worst showing in a national vote since the end of apartheid — testifies to the public anger over “state capture,” as the looting of public funds under his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, is known.
While Ramaphosa fired several ministers with tainted reputations when he replaced Zuma as president last year, others kept their posts. They include Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, who was implicated in taking bribes during an official probe, and Bathabile Dlamini, the minister for women’s affairs accused by the Constitutional Court of lying under oath about her tenure at the $11-billion-a-year welfare department, which almost collapsed. Both deny wrongdoing.
“If ever he has had a platform to act against and cut these figures from his cabinet, it’s now,” Susan Booysen, director of research at the Johannesburg-based Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, said in an interview. “If he does not use this opening, he’s going to lose it.”
Investors will focus on whether Tito Mboweni, appointed as finance minister in October, retains his post. While the former central bank governor has said publicly he would prefer to step down, his acceptance of a nomination to parliament indicates he may be prepared to stay on.
The president has the sole prerogative to select ministers from the National Assembly’s 400 lawmakers, although he can choose two from people outside its ranks.
Ramaphosa hasn’t revealed his preferences, but the ANC’s list of candidate lawmakers gives an indication of who’s in the running. They include most members of the current cabinet, including Mboweni, Deputy President David Mabuza, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Mokonyane and Dlamini also made the cut, as did Malusi Gigaba, who resigned as home affairs minister after a court found he’d lied under oath and a compromising video of him was circulated on social media.
The new administration needs to move speedily to revive an economy that has expanded at an annual pace of less than 1.5% for the past four years and tackled a 27 percent unemployment rate by reducing policy uncertainty and bolstering private investment, according to Raymond Parsons, a professor at the North West University’s School of Business and Governance.
Sluggish Economy
The economy hasn’t grown by more than 2% annually since 2013
Source: Statistics South Africa
“A key test will include the selection of a credible and streamlined cabinet that also enjoys the confidence of business and the markets,” he said.
Before the election, Ramaphosa’s reticence to carry out a clean sweep may stem from his tenuous hold on the ANC in the aftermath of a hard-fought internal election that’s left the party deeply divided has resulted in some Zuma allies remaining in top party posts.
Ramaphosa, who’s due to be elected at the new parliament’s first sitting on May 22 and sworn in three days later, called his outgoing cabinet of 34 ministers and 35 deputies a holding administration.
While Fikile Mbalula, the ANC’s head of elections, said Ramaphosa had the party’s full backing to trim the cabinet and it may be reduced to fewer than 30 ministers, party Secretary-General Ace Magashule said the matter has yet to be discussed.

Zimbabwe: Suspected Human Trafficking Syndicate Ships 200 Zimbabweans Out

ABOUT 200 unsuspecting and desperate Zimbabweans left Harare via South Africa, Wednesday where they were promised to be issued with ‘Canadian’ Visas before getting jobs.
The 200 job seekers are reportedly going to work as child minders, cooks, carpenters, hairdressers, bakers and helpers in old peoples’ homes to cover a temporary skills shortage in Canada.
Investigations by reveal that the human trafficking syndicate, is being led by a former Zimbabwe national soccer team player (name withheld) and his wife.
Officers from Criminal Investigations Department (CID) visited the pick-up point (open space between Harare City library and Harare International Conference Centre) and made the travellers aware of the possibility they could be turned into slaves but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
After a tip off before the group left, visited the pick-up point an open space used by various driving training schools and witnessed the over 200 preparing to board buses bound for South Africa.
A quick check with the Canadian Embassy in Harare’s offices revealed that it was “ironic” that the people were being promised the North American country’s visas in South Africa yet it has a full embassy in Harare.
“I came here because we are supposed to board buses to South Africa and process our visas to Canada,” one of the desperate job seekers said on condition of anonymity.
Investigations by this publication also shows that the job seekers were recruited through a social media message.
“The law does not stop anyone from living the country, we raised awareness to the travellers but all were adamant to go,” a CID officer who is not allowed to speak to the media told this publication.
“We tried to speak to them but the only people who at least listened to our warnings of possible human trafficking were relatives who had come to see them off. They even refused to tell us their final destination.”
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi was not immediately available for comment.
The officer also told this publication that they have alerted the Home Affairs Ministry’s secretariat on the developments.
Inquires by this publication at the Canadian in Harare indicate it also does not have a direct visa section.
“VFS Global manages, the Canada Visa Application Centre (CVAC) in Harare and is the exclusive service provider for the government of Canada, authorised to accept applications in all temporary resident categories (visitor visas, study and work permits and travel document application from Canada’s permanent resident in Zimbabwe,” a Canadian embassy official said.
The country’s economic problems and a high employment rate has forced citizens into taking desperate moves with some ending up as salves in the Middle East.
The visa conditions and work permits are said to be issued in a languages which they do not understands which restrict them from leaving their slavery.
In 2016, at least 200 women were reported to have been trapped in Kuwait where they pleaded for government assistance to return home.

Hackers abuse LinkedIn DMs to plant malware

Fake jobs offers fool unsuspecting users into installing More_eggs back door
Hackers are impersonating recruitment agencies on LinkedIn in a bid to target companies with backdoor malware.
Researchers at Proofpoint found that the malware campaigns primarily targeted US companies in various industries including retail, entertainment, pharmacy, and others that commonly employ online payments, such as online shopping portals.
In a blog post, the firm said hackers establish a relationship with potential victims by abusing LinkedIn’s direct messaging service.
In follow-up emails, the actor pretends to be from a staffing company with an offer of employment. In many cases, the actor supports campaigns with fake websites that impersonate legitimate staffing companies. “These websites, however, host the malicious payloads. In other cases, the actor uses a range of malicious attachments to distribute More_eggs,” the company said.
What is malware?
After a week, hackers then send a direct email to the target’s work address reminding the recipient about the prior attempt to communicate on LinkedIn.
“It uses the target’s professional title, as it appears on LinkedIn, as the subject, and often suggests the recipient click on a link to see the noted job description. In other cases, this actor used an attached PDF with embedded URLs or other malicious attachments,” Proofpoint added.
The URLs link to a landing page that spoofs a real talent and staffing management company, using stolen branding to enhance the legitimacy of the campaigns. This page then kicks off the download of the malicious Word document that then attempts to download and execute the “More_eggs” payload if the recipient has enabled macros.
“These campaigns demonstrated considerable variability, with the actor frequently changing delivery methods and more,” the researchers added.
They said that hackers are turning away from very large-scale “spray and pray” campaigns to focus more on focus on persistent infections with downloaders, RATs, bankers, and other malware.
The researchers warned: “We can expect more threat actors to adopt approaches that improve the effectiveness of their lures and increase the likelihood of high-quality infections.”