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Immigration official arrested in sting over R100 000 ‘bribe’

An immigration official appeared in the Kempton Park Regional Court on Monday and remains in custody after being charged with corruption, extortion and defeating the ends of justice.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo confirmed Sam Jan Langa, 52, of the Department of Home Affairs’ national office was arrested on Thursday.
“Langa allegedly demanded over R100 000 from a foreign businessman. In exchange, he would allegedly ensure that the businessman and other foreigners would not be deported back to their country of origin,” Naidoo said in a statement.
Langa was arrested during a sting operation at OR Tambo International Airport’s departure terminal on Thursday after allegedly accepting the “bribe money” after the case was referred to the police’s National Cold Case Investigation Team.
The case was postponed for further investigation and Langa was remanded until his next court appearance on Wednesday.

Lawyers for Human Rights to challenge the amendment of Refugee Act

Some of the changes in the Refugee Act include preventing asylum-seekers from participating in political activity, clamping down on businesses and regulations on where they can work or go to school.
Lawyers for Human Rights say they will challenge the amendments made to the Refugee Act that came into effect on January 1.
Some of the changes in the Act include preventing asylum-seekers from participating in political activity, clamping down on businesses and regulations on where they can work or go to school.
The organisation says it is disappointed by the amendments to the Act.
Sharon Ekambaram from the Lawyers for Human Rights says they will mobilise to challenge the Home Affairs Department.
“The problem with that is that the asylum system in SA is in crisis and these amendments are not looking at addressing that problem. What we see is that many of these amendments that are coming into regulation are actually intended to place more restrictions and to deny human beings, people who are fleeing conflict on the continent, who are facing serious trauma; that their human rights and human dignity is further coming under attack in SA.”
www.samigration.com

New tighter laws for South Africa’s border control

Cape Town – The home affairs committee has backed new regulations on refugees saying they would tighten the immigration system.
This comes after Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi recently gazetted the regulations.
The regulations would be among other statutes that would ban refugees from political activity.
The Refugee Amendment Act regulations came into effect at the start of the year.
Chairperson of the committee Bongani Bongo said this was a step in the right direction and the regulations would tighten the immigration system.
“We believe that the regulations form part of the broader efforts that are aimed at strengthening the immigration system and ensure that the system is not manipulated for nafarious reasons.
“We call on the department to properly train its employees on the new regulations and ensure that they are adequately and fully implemented,” said Bongo.
The gazetting of the regulations comes after the National Council of Provinces (NCoP) approved the Border Management Authority Bill.
The new bill would create a single agency to man the borders of the country.
Politicians had for many years complained about the country’s porous borders and wanted a single agency that would tighten control at borders.
When the Border Management Authority Bill was tabled a few years ago National Treasury had complained it would cut the powers of the South African Revenue Service to collect taxes at the border.
The police also complained that the new law would take away some of their functions.
But they were assured by the department of home affairs that the new agency would not strip any entity or department of its powers.
The EFF and DA also criticised this law in the NCoP.
The EFF said the bill would create a parallel structure to collect taxes.
The DA said the country would not have the money to implement it over 15 years.
It would cost between R3.8 billion and R10.2bn to implement.
On the gazetting of the regulations for the Refugee Act, Bongo said this would strengthen the entry requirements into the country.
He said the regulations must ensure the sovereignty and security of the country and give refugees protection.
“We believe strongly as the committee that these regulations will certainly deter the tide of corruption and fraud in the system and maintain on a sustainable basis the balance between the three responsibilities,” he said.
Others criticised the regulations saying they would limit the movement and entry of refugees and asylum seekers into the country.
But Bongo said those slamming the regulations did not provide alternatives or viable options.

Department of Home Affairs – Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi welcomes the arrest of an immigration official on corruption charges

The Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, welcomes the arrest of immigration official Sam Lange who was arrested during a sting operation by the police, on 09 January 2020 and appeared in court on 13 January 2020.
Lange allegedly demanded over R100 000 from a foreign businessman who was in South Africa illegally to ensure that the businessman and other foreigners were not deported.
Langa faces charges of corruption, extortion and defeating the ends of justice. He is in custody and is expected to reappear in court today, 15 January 2020.
“We shall spare no effort in rooting out corruption and malfeasance in all its forms in the Department. The Department will work with the police and all law enforcement agencies to ensure that transgressors face the full might of the law,” said Minister Motsoaledi.
Minister Motsoaledi bemoaned the fact that Langa is actually a law enforcement officer whose job is to make sure that the law is upheld, adhered to and respected. This fact alone aggravates the alleged transgressions of Langa.
The Minister echoed the call from the police that anyone who may have any information on such corrupt activities or any other criminal activities should contact the SA Police Service.

Informal village springs up in Cape Town CBD as sit-in continues at UN refugee offices

A huge bag of chicken and bunches of spinach were being prepared for hundreds of foreign nationals still camping out at the UN High Commission for Refugees’ offices in Cape Town’s CBD on Monday in the hopes of being evacuated from South Africa.
Some foreign nationals want to be evacuated from SA.
A huge bag of chicken and bunches of spinach were being prepared for hundreds of foreign nationals still camping out at the UN High Commission for Refugees’ offices in Cape Town’s CBD on Monday, in the hopes of being evacuated from SA amid safety fears.
“If there is any generous country that still wants to help, we are ready to go to that place where we can feel safe,” Jean-Pierre Balous, originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, told News24.
They are hoping that the refugee agency will assist them and have plastered the pillars at the entrance of Waldorf Arcade with pictures of people who have been injured or attacked, seemingly just because they are foreign.
A toddler wailed as his mother stirred a pot of mielie meal at the entrance to St George’s Arcade, which is off one of the cobbled walkways parallel to Adderley Street. Rows and rows of blankets and pillows, with flip-flops neatly positioned at the end of the makeshift beds, filled the arcade.

Bags at the ready in Cape Town. (Jenni Evans, News24)
Many people slept, blankets over their ears to block the cacophony of chatter around them. Children played with little toy cars and a group of women played a board game drawn on the side of a torn off piece of cardboard.
“They have to do something to make the day shorter,” said one man.
The occupation began on October 8.
Piles of luggage and more bedding are stacked against an outside pillar.
“We are ready to go,” said Balous, adding an estimated 80 children also lived there, and those of school-going age were being forced to carry on with school, even though their parents worry about them being victimised.
The scene was juxtaposed against the announcement by Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato on Monday that the Mother City was voted as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
According to a survey done by Flight Network, a Canadian online travel agency, Cape Town came seventh out of 50 desired worldwide destinations for tourists.
Balous said a similar sit-in was being held in Pretoria and he understood that a meeting would be taking place on Monday with the refugee agency to try and resolve the situation.
They are relying on friends to have somewhere to wash and use the toilet, and some business people have taken small collections and presented it to the women in the group to purchase food.
“I go to my friend’s house to bath,” said one man.
“I have to buy my water,” said another.
But the refugee agency made it clear last week that group settlement was not an option, that it was not taking names for relocation, and there were no buses or planes coming to evacuate refugees and asylum seekers from SA.
Resettlement option
After the attacks in Katlehong recently, xenophobia was blamed, and a private airline took a group of people back to Nigeria at no charge.
The refugee agency added resettlement was only an option for a “very small number of refugees” with strict criteria, which it said most refugees do not meet. The criteria was set by resettlement countries, not the refugee agency.
It said other grievances have been raised in daily meetings with the agency.
These include access to documentation and the renewal of documentation.
The refugee agency said it was working with the South African government to find solutions as quickly as possible, adding the groups do not represent all refugees in SA.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, visited the country last week and met President Cyril Ramaphosa and Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to discuss refugees and asylum seekers in SA.
Grandi met refugees and asylum seekers in Pretoria and Johannesburg, and held a video conference with those in Cape Town.
They raised concerns over the timeframes of the asylum process, and the growing process of not being able to access and review documentation, which had an impact on them getting jobs and services.
He noted the number of resettlement places worldwide were dropping.
www.samigration.com

One in three Chinese immigrants fail to acquire Australian citizenship amid ‘unwarranted delays’

One in three migrants from mainland China has failed to acquire Australian citizenship since 2012 amid the growing political debate over Chinese influence.
The figure, the highest of any nation in the top 10 sources of new Australian citizens, follows a collapse in the number of Chinese residents approved last financial year, when only 11 per cent of these applicants were granted citizenship as Home Affairs struggled to keep up with demand.
Only two-thirds of applications for citizenship by residents of Chinese heritage have been approved since 2012.
The department pulled that figure back up this year, with 42 per cent of Chinese applications between 2017 and 2019 approved overall.
But figures, given in response to questions on notice in Parliament show that, since 2012, just 64 per cent of applicants from China were approved, compared with 69 per cent from the Philippines, 77 per cent from Britain and India, and 90 per cent from South Africa. The figures exclude migrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Up to 390 Chinese migrants have had their citizenship put on hold for three years, while 9600 have been waiting for two years despite already being permanent residents for several years. At the same time, 2350 Afghani migrants have been waiting since 2015 to have their citizenship applications processed.
A Home Affairs spokesperson said the department did not treat citizenship applications from people from certain backgrounds more favourably than others.
The spokesperson said processing times could vary due to individual circumstances, including the time it takes to receive additional character and national security information from external agencies and the time it takes for the applicant to attend a citizenship ceremony or receive a citizenship certificate.
The Morrison government has blamed the delays on an increase in the complexity of applications. An Auditor-General’s report dismissed this in February, finding that “overall, the relative complexity of the applications lodged has decreased” and the backlog was due to tighter security screenings.
The Home Affairs spokesperson said the department had implemented a number of strategies to improve processing times and reduce the on-hand caseload of applications, without “compromising on national security” or “program integrity”.
The figures come amid a decline in Chinese applications overall. The absolute number of applications for Australian citizenship by residents of Chinese heritage has halved since 2017, when there were 14,707 applicants, compared with 7999 last year.
Political tension between the Chinese and Australian governments has grown since 2017, when former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull angered the Chinese government by introducing foreign interference laws. Mr Turnbull last year banned Chinese telco giant Huawei from building Australia’s 5G network due to national security concerns.
Scott Morrison, who is yet to visit Beijing since becoming prime minister in August last year, has become more aggressive in his differences with China on global trade policy since visiting US President Donald Trump in September. Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne has also sharpened her criticism of the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong.
The chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia, Mary Patetsos, said the federation hoped people from all backgrounds and nationalities would receive equal treatment in relation to the processing of their citizenship applications.
“I think this is what an overwhelming majority of Australians would expect as citizens of a country that strives to be fair, equitable and democratic,” she said.
“We must also remember that unwarranted delays in the processing of citizenship applications cause significant hardship for families.”
Labor MP Julian Hill, who asked for the figures from Home Affairs and has launched a parliamentary inquiry into the citizenship audit, said the delays had caused widespread anxiety among migrants in his Melbourne electorate of Bruce.
He said some applicants were unable to travel where they needed to without an Australian passport, or apply for jobs in the public service or defence force.
“Then of course there is the big issue of family reunions. People are in my office weekly because they are desperate,” he said.
“Until they are citizens, their family reunion applications will get no priority. That means they have not been able to see their wife, husband or kids for years. The sheer inhumanity of that is astounding.”
www.samigration.com

Facial recognition tech would save Aussies $2.2 billion – so is it a good idea?

Privacy concerns about national facial recognition database
A Liberal senator says the federal government must push on with legislation for facial recognition technology to prevent Australians losing $2.2 billion each year through identity theft.
The government suffered a setback this week after a parliamentary committee scrutinising its legislation called for greater safeguards
Senator Paul Scarr said the intelligence and security committee, made up of MPs and senators from both sides of the political divide, did its homework and came back with some measured recommendations.
“The government will be looking at the recommendations of the committee and working with the committee to progress the legislation,” the Queensland senator told ABC television on Saturday.
“There was no intention through this legislation to introduce mass surveillance,” he said, adding that something needs to be done to prevent identity theft, which affects one in 20 Australians each year.
Labor frontbencher Andrew Giles said the legislation would allow the Department of Home Affairs to obtain facial images from state driver’s licence databases.
Mr Giles said this is “more overreach” from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.
A parliamentary committee wants more safeguards in the government’s facial recognition legislation. Credit: EPA
“The onus should be on the minister and the government to clearly articulate what they’re doing and why,” Mr Giles told ABC television.
He said the parliament is always trying to strike the balance between ensuring Australians are kept safe while protecting privacy and civil liberties.
“It appears no such consideration took place by the government before introducing this bill,” he said.
Australia is not the only country wary of facial recognition technology, with a new survey in the UK finding almost two in three Britons disagree with police using such technology.
The technology uses surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition software to scan passers-by in public spaces, using artificial intelligence to compare them to watch-lists of people being sought by police.
www.vsoftsystems.co.za

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