Archive from November, 2020

Warning: new car theft scam in South Africa

Vehicle-tracking company Tracker says it has recently become aware of a car theft scam which is being used by a syndicate in South Africa.
Customers are being contacted by the scamsters who are pretending to work for Tracker. They advise the customer that there is something wrong with their tracking device and that they need to come out to repair or replace the device.
Once on-site, the perpetrators will claim that they need to test the device by taking the car for a test drive or they will say that they can’t finalise the repairs on-site and need to take the vehicle back to the fitment centre.
Tracker said that the scamsters have targeted the customers of several vehicle tracking companies, and that this trend was not unique to its customers.
“If you are contacted about repairs to your tracking device by someone claiming to be from Tracker, please ask them to take you through the Tracker security verification questions associated with your account in order to verify the legitimacy of the call.
“If they are unable to do so, advise them that you will need to contact someone at Tracker to verify their claim. If you are still unsure or find the call suspicious please contact our call centre on 0860 60 50 40.”
Tracker said it is important to keep the following in mind:
• A Tracker technician will never need to nor should they ask to test drive your vehicle;
• Always check the email address the request is sent from – this is often an immediate give away as the criminals would not be using a tracker.co.za address;
• You can always confirm the validity of an appointment by contacting our call centre on 0860 60 50 40.
www.vsoftsysyems.co.za

Verification process for refugees under way, says Cape Town Home Affairs

CAPE TOWN – Home Affairs officials have embarked on a verification process of refugees and asylum seekers accommodated in a temporary camp in Bellville, set up for the group who had been protesting for several months in the Cape Town CBD, demanding to be moved to another country.
Home Affairs spokesperson David Hlabane said the operation at emergency shelter at Paint City was to identify and verify the status of the refugees living there.
The Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs and the Refugee Appeals Authority are providing oversight. A similar process was concluded at a facility called Wingfield in Kensington.
But he said refugees and asylum seekers at the camp, who were followers of JP Balous and his wife Aline Bukuru, refused to co-operate.
One of the leaders, Hafiz Mohammed, said the officials “raided” the camp on Thursday and took people to various police stations for the verification process. He said some were allegedly forced to sign forms for reintegration into local communities and after they refused were held in the police station.
“We would like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help us move out of the country. They can decide where we can go as long as it is a safe and peaceful country where our children can have a future,” Mohammed said.
He said children had no access to education, even those who were to write matric exams could not do so as their “papers” were not processed.
In October 2019, hundreds of refugees began protest outside the UNHCR offices in St Georges Mall. After they were removed by police, they took refuge at the central Methodist Church where they remained until this year.
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs Bongani Bongo said the committee wanted to conclude the verification process as soon as possible so an exit plan that included reintegration into local society would be implemented.
“We are concerned about the condition of the refugees and asylum seekers. But it will be impossible to facilitate their deportation to Canada or any other country. Those who want to go to Canada will have to go back to their original countries”, Bongo said.
UNHCR spokesperson Kate Pond said refugees and asylum seekers had the right to choose if and when to return to their country of origin. She said the UNHCR was “ready to support reintegration into the communities, or repatriation for those who choose to do so and in a dignified manner

Home affairs committee unhappy about refugees’ living conditions at Cape Town temporary shelters

Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs is not happy about living conditions at temporary shelters for refugees in Cape Town.
The committee visited the Wingfield and Paint City temporary sites on Saturday. The refugees spent months holed up in the Central Methodist Church in the CBD after a protracted protest at UN offices — in a bid to be moved to other countries. They were moved to the sites to prevent the spread of Covid-19 when the pandemic reached SA’s shores.
“The conditions are abysmal, with no social distancing and no adherence to regulations prescribed by the declared state of national disaster. The conditions place the lives of the refugees in danger and do not conform to the generally accepted living standards for human beings,” Mosa Chabane, the acting chairperson of the committee, said in a statement.
The committee expressed concern about the increasing number of people at the sites, “which brings into question the bona fides of some of the members of the group”.
It felt the accommodation of refugees at the “sites is unsustainable especially in the context of the non-existence of encampment policy in SA”. It also expressed concern about the conditions women and children are exposed to at the sites and called for reintegration.
“The committee re-emphasises its call for reintegration of the refugees into communities they were in before the protests. It also said a comprehensive exit plan that includes reintegration into society must be urgently implemented through co-operative stakeholder action,” Chabane said.
The committee re-emphasised its call for deportation of refugees back to their home countries after all proper provisions of the law have been followed in cases where integration is impossible, it said.
It also urged the department of home affairs to urgently complete individual refugee verification status of all the refugees housed at the temporary sites.
After the visit, the committee said it would invite the refugee appeal board to “ascertain impediments that stand in the way of processing appeals lodged as per the refugee appeal board rules”.
Papy Sukami, chairperson of the refugees community in Western Cape, shared the committee’s sentiments. He described the conditions at the sites as a catastrophic.
“The conditions we are facing now are another xenophobic act,” said Sukami.
“Those marquees were just erected there, no mattresses and blankets were provided. Some NGOs and churches brought some blankets during winter but we have not been cared for by the authorities. There is no social distancing here. This is another form of xenophobia. We are calling on the UN to intervene and solve this situation. It is the UN’s responsibility. They cannot just leave us to the SA government. SA has got its own problems — problems of unemployment and housing.”

Scalabrini’s ‘abandonment’ court case challenges constitutionality of South African refugee laws

Scalabrini Centre in Court seeking an interdict against the Department of Home Affairs, in first step to challenging the constitutionality of the Refugee Amendment Act’s ‘deemed abandonment’ provisions.
On 28 October 2020, the Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town, represented by Norton Rose Fulbright South Africa Inc, is in the Western Cape High Court, seeking to interdict the Department of Home Affairs from implementing or operating specific provisions related to the deemed abandonment of asylum applications, which provisions were implemented with the coming into effect of the Refugees Amendment Act and Regulations from 1 January 2020.
Scalabrini Centre, in its own right as well as in the public interest, has brought a constitutional challenge against certain provisions in the Refugees Amendment Act and Refugees Regulations, which came into effect on 1 January 2020. The specific provisions being challenged are those relating to the ‘deemed abandonment’ of asylum applications simply because the asylum applicant is a month or more late in renewing their asylum document. In this challenge, Scalabrini Centre has first sought an interdict against the Department of Home Affairs, stopping the Department from implementing or applying the specific provisions. This interdict is to ensure that anyone who may have, or might still, fall foul of those provisions is protected against refoulement pending the final hearing of the main matter – the constitutional challenge of the impugned provisions.
Today, 28 October 2020, Scalabrini Centre is in court to argue why the interdict is necessary pending the finalisation of the main matter. The Department of Home Affairs has opposed the interdictory relief being sought by Scalabrini Centre. It has also opposed the constitutional challenge.
For more on the main challenge, see below.
www.samigration.com

SA Consul in Los Angeles Latest Diplomat to Cause Uproar

South African diplomats abroad, though many of them are good at doing their job, are constantly seeing their efforts undermined by colleagues who are alleged criminals and cadres making exorbitant demands who never think about doing the job they were put there to do, as repeated and urgent queries by South Africans in different countries are met with unanswered phones and emails and dead-ends.
The latest, according to a report in the Sunday Times today, is the consul general in Los Angeles, Thandile Sunduza, who is alleged to have rejected more than 30 properties offered to her by her own department, the department of international relations and co-operation (DIRCO), and wants something on the elite Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. She was apparently accused of making other demands, being “uncouth” and lacking a full grasp of her job.
It is one of many such stories about staff in South African embassies, especially those who are not career diplomats but have been given or, according to a recent letter to DIRCO, bought the job. During the Jacob Zuma years, cadres, sometimes failed politicians or people who allegedly had some dirt on Zuma, were sent out to fill the highest posts of ambassador.
The DIRCO Minister Naledi Pandor, appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, is now left with the fallout, embassies that for a decade have not only been dysfunctional but often don’t have a boss. SAPeople, in dealing with the issues of South Africans abroad, has on numerous occasions tried to get information out of embassies, many times without success, or, in the case of the high commissioner in London, Nomatemba Tambo, a curt message saying “I’m afraid I don’t intend to engage in an ongoing dialogue on such issues.” These are civil servants, mind you, paid for by citizens’ taxes.

The Sunday Times report will come as little surprise to South Africans living in the LA area who have been struggling for months to elicit any response or support from the SA Consulate despite continued phone calls, emails and even visits to the office.
For one South African, whose passport expired at the end of September 2020, he has been battling to hear back since January when he submitted his renewal application. (Sunduza has apparently been in the LA post since around February.)
“Due to Covid, I expected a delay, but I haven’t been able to get in touch with anybody at the Consulate for months,” he told SAPeople in August. In mid-September he was finally sent a letter stating that consulate members were working remotely and requesting patience. The letter was “not reassuring”, didn’t address his renewal, and gave no indication of when services would be properly administered again.
“I called the person who sent the letter, using the phone number in his signature of the letter, and surprisingly he answered. He was working from home, but unfortunately didn’t have any additional information.”
In a subsequent call he was informed that “they are still working from home and they have no idea when they will receive diplomatic bags with renewed passports. In the meantime my passport has expired which leaves me in limbo. I just can’t believe they don’t have a simpler system to streamline these kind of things.”
Today he told SAPeople: “Still waiting unfortunately. I did email them last week at the Consulate and they told me that they are still working remotely but that they have been receiving diplomatic bags with documents. I guess I’ll just continue to wait. They said to email Home Affairs in South Africa for any further updates which I did twice with no response.”
A South African in Seattle shared her similar frustrating experience with SAPeople, with no luck receiving a response from the LA consulate, her nearest foreign mission. “I’ve tried calling several times when the office is reported to be open by their website (9am-12pm) and either get cut off or it goes to voice mail that never gets a response. I’ve also re-sent my questions by email and haven’t had a response.
“It’s frustrating because we South Africans are entitled to a passport and mine has now expired (in early August). I can’t even access a list of instructions for how to apply for a new passport — from the LA consulate website.”
The desperate South African in Seattle finally found a list of requirements for renewing her passport on the Washington D.C. website, and submitted her new passport application and payment to the LA office. According to UPS, her package was successfully delivered… but she has still not heard anything from the Consulate.
She told SAPeople today: “Ten years ago when I last made a passport application, the LA office was helpful and answered emails with questions almost immediately. They also previously let me know when passport application materials were received and that they were all in order.”
Expats in the United Kingdom are suffering the same headaches, where the website has been down since mid-August, phone calls lead to a “dead end”, and emails are ignored. Many South Africans are asking if the way they are being treated by the very people who have been appointed to support them, is even legal.
The high commissioner, Nomatemba Tambo, briefly answered SAPeople questions on behalf of South Africans in the UK in August, but when we followed up for clearer answers, she sent a curt message, “I’m afraid I don’t intend to engage in an ongoing dialogue on such issues.” She added that “whatever operational inconveniences our nationals are experiencing will be resolved in due course as I stated yesterday.” That was on 20 August. Two months later, and the problems seem to be increasing, judging by the cries for help we receive daily from South Africans in the UK who cannot get hold of their embassy. (In the past week we have again written to Ms Tambo and her office several times, in search of answers for these South Africans. She has not replied.)
No longer able to download application forms, South Africans in the UK have to send postal requests for the forms to be sent to them. The SAHC states the forms will be sent within 5 business days, but many are still waiting after a month. One expat in London told SAPeople: “It appears SAHC have effectively stopped servicing SA citizens in the U.K. and I wonder if there is not some breach of law or responsibility in this regard that can be investigated?”
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Adrian Roos, said in a recent podcast for South Africans abroad that he will raise the urgent matter in Parliament of the UK website being down.
Across the world, almost guaranteed problems await any South African citizen wanting to get a passport. Inaction or inefficiency from Home Affairs and DIRCO belies the fact that South Africa has plenty of embassies and representatives in over 100 countries (117 heads of delegation, according to the DIRCO website, 14 of which are vacant).
Delays for passports and other documents last for up to six months, sometimes over a year, due mainly to an archaic system, which in many cases is run inefficiently, in which applications are sent in diplomatic bags to DIRCO in South Africa, before being sent to Home Affairs to process… and then returned to DIRCO to send back to overseas missions. (Roos points out that so much time could be saved by the larger missions offering online applications, similar to the procedure within SA.)
As many as 70 percent of South Africa’s heads of mission are apparently political appointments, often with no training to run an embassy abroad. As recently as this year former human settlements minister Nomaindia Mfeketo was appointed ambassador to the United States.
South Africa’s former ambassador to the Netherlands, Bruce Koloane, was recalled last year (and then resigned) after he gave evidence at the state capture enquiry about his involvement in the controversial Gupta plane landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2015.
In 2016 Sibisiso Ndebele was recalled as high commissioner in Australia because of allegedly getting R10 million in kickbacks from tenders when he was a minister. The charges were withdrawn in 2018 and he is now high commissioner in India.
In the same year (2016), SA was embarrassed by the revelation that its high commissioner to Singapore – Hazel Francis Ngubeni (55) – had withheld the fact that she was jailed in New York for a couple of years for smuggling cocaine. In Singapore drug trafficking can lead to the death penalty. Ngubeni, who was formerly an SAA air stewardess, was jailed between 1999 and 2001… but omitted to disclose the conviction when nominated for her role in Singapore in 2013. DIRCO subsequently withdrew her security clearance and her employment contract was terminated.
Zindzi Mandela, the late daughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, and former ambassador to Denmark, was often in the news for undiplomatic statements, most notably her apparent support for the Economic Freedom Fighters.
In October Peter Fabricius reported in Daily Maverick that South Africa’s deputy ambassador to Sudan, Zabantu Ngcobo, and her partner were being investigated for allegedly hiring the embassy driver and his accomplice to kill the intelligence officer because he was sending home damaging reports about Ngcobo.
SA ambassadors are reportedly paid a minimum annual salary of R1-million, excluding living allowances, free accommodation and other perks that can double that amount, according to BusinessInsider.
Sunduza, a former ANC MP with a degree in sports from the Vaal University of Technology, worked for the Gauteng Department of Health and its Department of Sports. She made headlines in 2014 when she wore a tight canary-yellow dress to the opening of parliament that elicited many negative remarks on social media, and she burnt the dress, according to City Press, in 2015, saying “That dress was a flop and it was the designer’s fault.” (The Mail & Guardian called her dress one of 8 Things that Broke the Internet in 2014.)
Faced with the mounting problems and glaring issues at many foreign missions, in June President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into a law the Foreign Service Act, which “provides for the minimum requirements a person must meet to qualify for transfer to a South African Mission (and) regulates the appointment of Heads of Mission and the requirements that such persons should have in order to be appointed.”
In October, the DA called on DIRCO to refer to the Zondo Commission into State Capture allegations contained in a letter from diplomats Francis Moloi and Nyameko Goso, dated 9 October 2020, which alleged that the ranks of ambassadors, diplomats and senior officials were filled with cadres and political appointments who were forced to make donations to the ANC from the moment of appointment.
In the meantime, SAPeople has launched a petition to help South Africans abroad receive a more efficient service. After our repeated requests to DIRCO and Home Affairs officials fell on deaf or deliberately blocked ears, SAPeople teamed up with the DA, who will be able to raise the concerns in Parliament and effect urgent changes. The petition already has over 8,000 signatures. It requires 20,000 in order to be debated in Parliament. Previous petitions have had no impact because they did not receive enough signatures, so it is vital that this petition reaches its target.
www.samigration.com

SA Consul in Los Angeles Latest Diplomat to Cause Uproar

South African diplomats abroad, though many of them are good at doing their job, are constantly seeing their efforts undermined by colleagues who are alleged criminals and cadres making exorbitant demands who never think about doing the job they were put there to do, as repeated and urgent queries by South Africans in different countries are met with unanswered phones and emails and dead-ends.
The latest, according to a report in the Sunday Times today, is the consul general in Los Angeles, Thandile Sunduza, who is alleged to have rejected more than 30 properties offered to her by her own department, the department of international relations and co-operation (DIRCO), and wants something on the elite Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. She was apparently accused of making other demands, being “uncouth” and lacking a full grasp of her job.
It is one of many such stories about staff in South African embassies, especially those who are not career diplomats but have been given or, according to a recent letter to DIRCO, bought the job. During the Jacob Zuma years, cadres, sometimes failed politicians or people who allegedly had some dirt on Zuma, were sent out to fill the highest posts of ambassador.
The DIRCO Minister Naledi Pandor, appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, is now left with the fallout, embassies that for a decade have not only been dysfunctional but often don’t have a boss. SAPeople, in dealing with the issues of South Africans abroad, has on numerous occasions tried to get information out of embassies, many times without success, or, in the case of the high commissioner in London, Nomatemba Tambo, a curt message saying “I’m afraid I don’t intend to engage in an ongoing dialogue on such issues.” These are civil servants, mind you, paid for by citizens’ taxes.

The Sunday Times report will come as little surprise to South Africans living in the LA area who have been struggling for months to elicit any response or support from the SA Consulate despite continued phone calls, emails and even visits to the office.
For one South African, whose passport expired at the end of September 2020, he has been battling to hear back since January when he submitted his renewal application. (Sunduza has apparently been in the LA post since around February.)
“Due to Covid, I expected a delay, but I haven’t been able to get in touch with anybody at the Consulate for months,” he told SAPeople in August. In mid-September he was finally sent a letter stating that consulate members were working remotely and requesting patience. The letter was “not reassuring”, didn’t address his renewal, and gave no indication of when services would be properly administered again.
“I called the person who sent the letter, using the phone number in his signature of the letter, and surprisingly he answered. He was working from home, but unfortunately didn’t have any additional information.”
In a subsequent call he was informed that “they are still working from home and they have no idea when they will receive diplomatic bags with renewed passports. In the meantime my passport has expired which leaves me in limbo. I just can’t believe they don’t have a simpler system to streamline these kind of things.”
Today he told SAPeople: “Still waiting unfortunately. I did email them last week at the Consulate and they told me that they are still working remotely but that they have been receiving diplomatic bags with documents. I guess I’ll just continue to wait. They said to email Home Affairs in South Africa for any further updates which I did twice with no response.”
A South African in Seattle shared her similar frustrating experience with SAPeople, with no luck receiving a response from the LA consulate, her nearest foreign mission. “I’ve tried calling several times when the office is reported to be open by their website (9am-12pm) and either get cut off or it goes to voice mail that never gets a response. I’ve also re-sent my questions by email and haven’t had a response.
“It’s frustrating because we South Africans are entitled to a passport and mine has now expired (in early August). I can’t even access a list of instructions for how to apply for a new passport — from the LA consulate website.”
The desperate South African in Seattle finally found a list of requirements for renewing her passport on the Washington D.C. website, and submitted her new passport application and payment to the LA office. According to UPS, her package was successfully delivered… but she has still not heard anything from the Consulate.
She told SAPeople today: “Ten years ago when I last made a passport application, the LA office was helpful and answered emails with questions almost immediately. They also previously let me know when passport application materials were received and that they were all in order.”
Expats in the United Kingdom are suffering the same headaches, where the website has been down since mid-August, phone calls lead to a “dead end”, and emails are ignored. Many South Africans are asking if the way they are being treated by the very people who have been appointed to support them, is even legal.
The high commissioner, Nomatemba Tambo, briefly answered SAPeople questions on behalf of South Africans in the UK in August, but when we followed up for clearer answers, she sent a curt message, “I’m afraid I don’t intend to engage in an ongoing dialogue on such issues.” She added that “whatever operational inconveniences our nationals are experiencing will be resolved in due course as I stated yesterday.” That was on 20 August. Two months later, and the problems seem to be increasing, judging by the cries for help we receive daily from South Africans in the UK who cannot get hold of their embassy. (In the past week we have again written to Ms Tambo and her office several times, in search of answers for these South Africans. She has not replied.)
No longer able to download application forms, South Africans in the UK have to send postal requests for the forms to be sent to them. The SAHC states the forms will be sent within 5 business days, but many are still waiting after a month. One expat in London told SAPeople: “It appears SAHC have effectively stopped servicing SA citizens in the U.K. and I wonder if there is not some breach of law or responsibility in this regard that can be investigated?”
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Adrian Roos, said in a recent podcast for South Africans abroad that he will raise the urgent matter in Parliament of the UK website being down.
Across the world, almost guaranteed problems await any South African citizen wanting to get a passport. Inaction or inefficiency from Home Affairs and DIRCO belies the fact that South Africa has plenty of embassies and representatives in over 100 countries (117 heads of delegation, according to the DIRCO website, 14 of which are vacant).
Delays for passports and other documents last for up to six months, sometimes over a year, due mainly to an archaic system, which in many cases is run inefficiently, in which applications are sent in diplomatic bags to DIRCO in South Africa, before being sent to Home Affairs to process… and then returned to DIRCO to send back to overseas missions. (Roos points out that so much time could be saved by the larger missions offering online applications, similar to the procedure within SA.)
As many as 70 percent of South Africa’s heads of mission are apparently political appointments, often with no training to run an embassy abroad. As recently as this year former human settlements minister Nomaindia Mfeketo was appointed ambassador to the United States.
South Africa’s former ambassador to the Netherlands, Bruce Koloane, was recalled last year (and then resigned) after he gave evidence at the state capture enquiry about his involvement in the controversial Gupta plane landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2015.
In 2016 Sibisiso Ndebele was recalled as high commissioner in Australia because of allegedly getting R10 million in kickbacks from tenders when he was a minister. The charges were withdrawn in 2018 and he is now high commissioner in India.
In the same year (2016), SA was embarrassed by the revelation that its high commissioner to Singapore – Hazel Francis Ngubeni (55) – had withheld the fact that she was jailed in New York for a couple of years for smuggling cocaine. In Singapore drug trafficking can lead to the death penalty. Ngubeni, who was formerly an SAA air stewardess, was jailed between 1999 and 2001… but omitted to disclose the conviction when nominated for her role in Singapore in 2013. DIRCO subsequently withdrew her security clearance and her employment contract was terminated.
Zindzi Mandela, the late daughter of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, and former ambassador to Denmark, was often in the news for undiplomatic statements, most notably her apparent support for the Economic Freedom Fighters.
In October Peter Fabricius reported in Daily Maverick that South Africa’s deputy ambassador to Sudan, Zabantu Ngcobo, and her partner were being investigated for allegedly hiring the embassy driver and his accomplice to kill the intelligence officer because he was sending home damaging reports about Ngcobo.
SA ambassadors are reportedly paid a minimum annual salary of R1-million, excluding living allowances, free accommodation and other perks that can double that amount, according to BusinessInsider.
Sunduza, a former ANC MP with a degree in sports from the Vaal University of Technology, worked for the Gauteng Department of Health and its Department of Sports. She made headlines in 2014 when she wore a tight canary-yellow dress to the opening of parliament that elicited many negative remarks on social media, and she burnt the dress, according to City Press, in 2015, saying “That dress was a flop and it was the designer’s fault.” (The Mail & Guardian called her dress one of 8 Things that Broke the Internet in 2014.)
Faced with the mounting problems and glaring issues at many foreign missions, in June President Cyril Ramaphosa signed into a law the Foreign Service Act, which “provides for the minimum requirements a person must meet to qualify for transfer to a South African Mission (and) regulates the appointment of Heads of Mission and the requirements that such persons should have in order to be appointed.”
In October, the DA called on DIRCO to refer to the Zondo Commission into State Capture allegations contained in a letter from diplomats Francis Moloi and Nyameko Goso, dated 9 October 2020, which alleged that the ranks of ambassadors, diplomats and senior officials were filled with cadres and political appointments who were forced to make donations to the ANC from the moment of appointment.
In the meantime, SAPeople has launched a petition to help South Africans abroad receive a more efficient service. After our repeated requests to DIRCO and Home Affairs officials fell on deaf or deliberately blocked ears, SAPeople teamed up with the DA, who will be able to raise the concerns in Parliament and effect urgent changes. The petition already has over 8,000 signatures. It requires 20,000 in order to be debated in Parliament. Previous petitions have had no impact because they did not receive enough signatures, so it is vital that this petition reaches its target.
www.samigration.com

Pages:«12345