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Home Affairs now also issue marriage licences

June 4, 2020 – Kempton Express

The Department of Home Affairs offers additional services under level three regulations.
During level three, the department will also provide marriage services and receive requests for late registration of birth, by appointment. This is in addition to the services rendered in level four, namely, issuance of uncollected identity documents, issuance of temporary identity certificates, registration of births and deaths, reissue of birth and death certificates and issuance of passports to those in export and cargo transport.
Home affairs offices are open Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 3.30pm.
For marriages, couples are required to book an appointment at their nearest home affairs office. On the day of the marriage, couples are requested to visit the office with only their witnesses to keep the number of people to a bare minimum.
No visa or permitting functions will be open in SA and at missions abroad during level three.
An appointment is also required when applying for a late registration of birth (LRB), which refers to a birth registration application lodged after 30 days of such a birth.
Children born during the lockdown will not follow the LRB process. This includes children who were born from February 26, 2020, but could not be registered because of the lockdown.
The department invites citizens whose smart ID cards are not yet collected to visit offices where they had applied to collect these cards.
All offices were disinfected and visitors must wear masks and observe social distancing protocols.
As part of coordinated security operations, the inspectorate will ensure that any undocumented or illegal nationals who are detained will be subject to deportation.
Refugee reception offices remain closed. However, permits issued lawfully and expired during the lockdown would be deemed to be valid until July 31, 2020.
No visa or permitting functions will be open in SA and at missions abroad during level three.
www.samigration.com

South Africa: COVID-19 – Bank Accused of Freezing Asylum Seekers’ Accounts During Lockdown

GroundUp (Cape Town) – 3 June 2020

First National Bank has been accused of freezing the accounts of asylum seekers whose permits have expired during lockdown.
Refugees can’t renew permits because offices are closed
A Zimbabwean asylum seeker says First National Bank (FNB) froze his account when his asylum papers expired during lockdown in spite of explanations from the Department of Home Affairs that refugee offices are closed.
According to People Against Suffering and Oppression (PASSOP), his is one of at least ten accounts which have been frozen in the same way.
The Department of Home Affairs issued a statement on 14 April saying: “Any asylum seeker whose visa expired from 16 March 2020 to the end of the lockdown period will not be penalised or arrested provided that they legalise their visa within 30 calendar days of the lockdown being lifted”.
As the country entered lockdown level three, the Department issued another statement on Monday, saying that refugee reception offices would remain closed but permits which expired “would be deemed to be valid until 31 July 2020″.
But Martin* says when he went to the ATM to draw money on 18 March he found that his FNB account, which he had opened in 2018, had been frozen. When he visited his FNB branch in Cape Town, he says, “They can’t help me because my asylum document has expired.”
Martin, who is gay, ran away from persecution in Zimbabwe and has been living in Cape Town for six years. He applied for his asylum in Port Elizabeth in 2018 and has been going to renew every three to six months. Since the closure of the Cape Town Refugee Reception offices in 2012, refugees must travel to Pretoria, Durban and Port Elizabeth, and can only renew their permits at the offices which issued them.
Now Martin has been threatened with eviction by his landlord because he cannot pay his rent. “Friends helped me out with money for food and rent. It’s frustrating to experience money problems when I know I have money locked in my account.”
Victor Chikalogwe of People Against Suffering and Oppression (PASSOP) last week said the organisation had received about ten complaints about accounts frozen by FNB. He said he had visited FNB in March and been told the accounts had been frozen for “authenticity verification” with Home Affairs. The bank had promised to open the accounts within a month but had not done so, he said.
“The worst part is they just freeze accounts without informing people. If they did that people would have taken out the little they have,” he said.
In an email to GroundUp on 20 May, FNB spokesperson Yashen Singh said, “FNB can confirm that its foreign national customers’ bank accounts are managed in accordance with the relevant laws, including the temporary concession issued by the Department of Home Affairs.”
“As an essential service, FNB continues to assist customers based on the individual merits of each case. We welcome an opportunity to assist our customer once we are provided with the requested details.”
Asked why the bank is freezing asylum seekers’ accounts in spite of the Home Affairs announcement, another spokesperson, Tsietsi Mahlasela told GroundUp on the phone on 20 May that she could not comment without the personal information of each complainant.
www.samigration.com

PLEAS for DIRCO to Help Repatriate South Africans, and Urgent Court Application Issued

4 June, 2020 , SA People

Pleas for DIRCO to help South Africans stranded abroad, or stuck in SA with jobs abroad, have increased as many run out of money, medicine and hope. The DA today issued a call for Dirco to liaise better with embassies in helping get citizens home; and AfriForum this morning issued urgent court papers in an effort to find solutions to the many problems facing South African citizens needing repatriation, including the fact that they are still required to spend a minimum of 14 days in quarantine in a state facility, while most have the ability and would prefer to isolate themselves.
The organisation says those in quarantine have no formal channel through which to address issues quickly and effectively.
“Slow repatriation processes, poor communication and late testing for the virus cause them additional unnecessary distress,” says AfriForum.
While over 5,000 South Africans HAVE been successfully repatriated since Lockdown began, there are at least 3,000 more (according to DIRCO’s Director-General) who are desperate to get home – running out of money, medicine and hope. There are also thousands more who are Locked in South Africa, as desperate to leave and return to their normal country of residence and their jobs.

SAPeople has been inundated with messages that range from heartbreaking (“please help, my mother is dying”) to frustrated and desperate (“we have tried to catch four planes from OR Tambo now”). They all come from South Africans in and out of SA who are being thwarted in their attempts to return home or return to work abroad… all stumbling at the same hurdle, they say – the SA government… specifically, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and Home Affairs.
While we know that the guys in the DIRCO 24-hour centre have been working around the clock (and have been extremely helpful each time we’ve called on behalf of someone desperate), and that Dirco has helped facilitate the repatriation of thousands of South Africans back to SA… there unfortunately seems to have been some flaws and hold-ups, mixed messages, unnecessary red tape and a lack of communication between Dirco, border control staff and airlines.
It’s not an ordinary situation and everybody is learning as they go along. But sometimes there appears to be no common sense, compassion or a simple check of facts. Passengers that are told by Dirco that they can fly, arrive at the airport to be turned away. A father and his 12-year-old are refused entry onto a plane with the rest of their family because they are accused of having recently visited a high-risk Covid area (they hadn’t travelled in over a year, but due to some ineptitude somewhere, their names were added to a no-go list).
For many South Africans their spirits are broken. This morning an exasperated Stephen Geldenhuys, who is an admin of the FB group South African Offshore Workers Unite (join here), said: “I have noticed that there has been a lot of talk from government but no proper structure in place or any sort of proper plan to get Oil and Gas contractors back to work… it seems like their left hand is not aware of what the right hand is doing which is making it very difficult to get back to work.
“Some contractors have made it to JHB via vehicle to fly out on a chartered flight, just to arrive and find out they not able to fly. South African Government is making it virtually impossible for us to earn a living, they are the prime reason why we find ourselves unemployed with the possibility of losing everything including our ability to provide for our families. All this while they earn full salaries. It’s a shame and I’m embarrassed to call myself South African, while my co-workers from other countries are able to travel from Europe to their place of employment with no problem.”
The South African oil and gas workers have set up a petition on Change.org here.
DA Calls for DIRCO to work with Embassies to bring stranded South Africans home
Today, the DA’s Shadow Minister of International Relations and Coperation, Darren Bergman, who has himself spearheaded efforts – including multiple WhatsApp groups around the world – to get South Africans where they need to be, issued a statement calling on DIRCO to work with embassies to bring stranded South Africans home, particularly from Namibia and Mozambique where they have been stranded for weeks.
Bergman said the DA is putting increased pressure on DIRCO to work with its embassies where staff “seem to have lost any power to instruct our border gates to allow safe passage for these citizens”.
He said there’s still “great uncertainty” as to why these South Africans who are stuck in the country’s neighbouring countries have not been able to come home.
Shortage of quarantine facilities?
“Speculation is rife that it may be due to a shortage of quarantine facilities or inefficiencies at Home Affairs,” says Bergman.
“The DA calls on DIRCO to immediately engage with embassies and the Departments of Health, Home Affairs and Public Works to ensure and facilitate the safe passage of those South Africans who need to return home. We urge them to find safe and immediate solutions around these issues even if it means self-quarantine or quarantine sites further into the country.
“What cannot happen is that school children, required to return in the foundation and essential years are denied their rights to an education and that people left vulnerable due to a shortage of funds or medicines are locked out of their country due to a lack of action by DIRCO.”
According to the DIRCO Director-General there are still over 3,000 South Africans needing to return to SA. Just in the past 24 hours SAPeople has received desperate messages from people in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, New Zealand, Zimbabwe and other parts of the world – many complaining that Dirco is not answering their calls. Emails to embassies are also being ignored, some say.
Louise Esterhuizen says: “DIRCO is of NO help. They do not answer their phones. I even called the DIRCO Media Liaison Officer on his cellphone. He knows nothing and cannot even direct me to someone that can help. My husband left Oman two days ago. He is now stuck in Frankfurt because of his connecting flight being cancelled twice now. He has done all the DIRCO paperwork.”
Of those stranded closer by in Mozambique and Namibia, Bergman says “when we have low hanging fruits just within our reach we seem reluctant to stretch out to apply ourselves.
“The DA call for an immediate solution that should not be delayed any further than this weekend.”
Quarantine conditions
According to Sue-Ann de Wet, who manages AfriForum’s contact with South Africans abroad, AfriForum was obliged this morning to urgently seek legal assistance for a repatriated South African in need of COVID-unrelated medical assistance, as the quarantine facility where he is at present, had not responded to his requests.
“These problems are constantly emerging and could be prevented if people, upon their arrival in the country, had the choice to isolate themselves for 14 days,” she says.
Another issue that is addressed in the papers is the new regulation that even allows for people to be compelled to pay for their quarantine.
“It is absurd that repatriated citizens are forced into quarantine facilities against their will and on top of this, have to pay for it. Many people already experience financial distress after waiting for repatriation opportunities for weeks, and they will certainly not be able to pay expenses for an unnecessary service, while secure self-isolation options are available at their own homes,” adds Bailey.
The Ministers of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, DIRCO and Health; as well as the Director General of Health are included as respondents in the case.
www.samigration.com

Mango to restart flights

04 June 2020 – News24

Mango Airlines will resume flights on Monday, June 15, between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
Travellers must present a travel permit and letter from their employer authorising business travel. This will be checked at the entrance to airports and again at check-in and boarding, says CEO, Nico Bezuidenhout. “Important enough to say it twice: if a traveller does not have a relevant permit for essential or business travel with the appropriate sign-off, the traveller will not be granted access to the airport and may subsequently forfeit the purchased ticket.”
Due to extra regulatory and safety protocols, passengers are asked to arrive at least two-and-half hours prior to their flight. If guests are feeling unwell, or suspect they are ill, Mango will allow one free date change to re-accommodate the passenger. This is valid from June 5 for two months, Bezuidenhout says.
“We will be strategically seating passengers on board aircraft, with exceptions made for guests travelling together,” says Nico. It will be compulsory for pax and crew to wear cloth masks prior to entering aircraft. Catering will not be provided. Passengers are asked to bring along their own refreshments. Sanitiser will be provided and aircraft will continue to be cleaned between flights and deep-cleaned each night, Bezuidenhout says.
www.samigration.com

Here is what the High Court said about the various lockdown regulations

News 24 – 4 June 2020

Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (GCIS)
• High Court Judge Norman Davis has given Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma 14 days to amend lockdown regulations, however, the national state of disaster is set to lapse before that deadline.
• Davis has slammed some of the regulations, saying there are millions of South Africans who operate in the informal sector, who have lost their livelihoods.
• Davis says in the case of hairdressers, a single mother and sole provider for her family is stripped of her rights of dignity, equality, to earn a living and to provide for the best interest of her children.
Although the country is still on lockdown, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has declared various regulations governing Alert Level 3 and 4 as unconstitutional and invalid.
Judge Norman Davis found that little or no regard was given to the extent of the impact of individual regulations on the constitutional rights of people and whether the extent of limitation of their rights was justifiable or not.
The judgment was handed down on Tuesday following the urgent application brought by the Liberty Fighters Network (LFN) and the Hola Bon Renaissance Foundation.
Davis ordered Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to formulate changes to the regulations within 14 days.
However, News24 reported that the national state of disaster is set to lapse before that deadline.
Here is what the High Court said about the various regulations:
On the attendance of funerals:
The disparity of the situations is not only distressing but irrational.
Judge Norman Davis
Davis said: “When a person, young or old is in the grip of a terminal disease, other than Covid-19 and is slowly leaving this life to ease that suffering and the passing, it is part of the nature of humanity for family and loved ones to support the sufferer.
“One might understand the reluctance to have an influx of visitors should the person at death’s door be inside the doors of a medical facility for fear of the spread of Covid-19, but what if the person is in his or her own home or at the home of a family member or a friend?”
He said once a person has died, up to 50 people “armed with certified copies of death certificates may even cross provincial boarders to attend the funeral of one who has departed and is no longer in need of support. The disparity of the situations is not only distressing but irrational.”
On night vigils being prohibited:
Davis questioned why night vigils were totally banned, saying if one wants to prevent the spreading of the novel coronavirus through close proximity, why not impose time, distance and closed casket prohibitions.
“Why not allow a vigil without the body of the deceased? If long distance travel is allowed albeit under strict limitations, a vigil by a limited number of grieving family under similar limitations can hardly pose a larger threat,” he said.
On hairdressers, waste pickers, street vendors and construction workers:
The High Court Judge said there were millions of South Africans who operate in the informal sector, who have lost their livelihoods.
“Their contact with other people is less on a daily basis than, for example, the attendance of a single funeral. The blanket ban imposed on them as opposed to the imposition of limitations and precautions appear to be irrational.
“In the case of a hairdressers, a single mother and sole provider for her family may have been prepared to comply with all the preventative measures proposed in the draft Alert Level 3 regulations but must now watch her children go hungry while witnessing minicab taxis pass with passengers in closer proximity to each other than they would have been in her salon.
“She is stripped of her rights of dignity, equality, to earn a living and to provide for the best interest of her children,” Davis said.
On limitations of exercise:
Davis said limitations on exercises were “equally perplexing”.
“If the laudable objective is not to have large groups of people exercising in close proximity to each other, the regulations should say so rather than prohibit the organising of exercise in an arbitrary fashion.
“To restrict the hours of exercise to arbitrarily determined time periods is completely irrational. On places and premises closed to the public.”
He also added that it can hardly be argued that it is rational to allow scores of people to run on the promenade but “were one to step a foot on the beach, it will lead to a rampant infection”.
“And what about the poor gogo who had to look after four youngsters in a single room shack during the whole lockdown period? She may still not take them to the park, even if they all wear masks and avoid other people altogether.”
On certain clothing items being sold:
The Judge said: “One need only to think of the irrationality in being allowed to buy a jersey but not undergarments or open-toed shoes and the criminalisation of many of the regulation’s measures.”
www.samigration.com

Covid-19 in SA: Death toll now at 848 as number of cases surge past 40 000

News24 – 4 June 2020

The Covid-19 death toll has hit 848, after 56 more people died – 54 of whom were from the epicentre Western Cape.

The number of cases rose by 3 267 to 40 792. The number of recoveries is 21 311.

The government is set to appeal a court judgment handed down this week which declared the lockdown regulations for Levels 3 and 4 unconstitutional. This came as the government also announced that a state of disaster will be extended until 15 July. Here is what the courts found in the ruling.

Just a few days after the government eased lockdown regulations, Cape Town hospitals have reported seeing an increase in trauma-related cases. This is said to be putting an unwanted strain on healthcare facilities, which are under the weight of Covid-19 patients.

The government has argued that taxes it has not recouped during the tobacco ban is outweighed by the potential harms of selling tobacco products during the Covid-19 pandemic. The government is set to argue this point in a court case where the Fair Trade Tobacco Association is trying to get the sale of tobacco reinstated.

The consignment of PPEs earmarked for school in KwaZulu-Natal that mysteriously disappeared have reappeared. Media reports quote a KZN Department of Education spokesperson saying that someone will be held responsible for the incident.

The Western Cape government will pay private hospitals R16 000 per bed if the state runs out of bed space. The province remains the epicentre of the virus, and accounts for about two-thirds of the total number of cases.

France to turn surplus wine into hand sanitiser

French winemakers will transform wine that went unsold during the country’s two-month coronavirus lockdown into hand sanitiser and ethanol to make room for the next harvest, a farming agency said on Thursday.

Wine sales and exports, particularly to the US, plunged at the height of the coronavirus crisis, leaving winemakers with millions of litres of unsold wine.

“From tomorrow, 33 licensed distillers will be able to collect the wine and distil it,” said Didier Josso, head of the wine branch in the farming agency FranceAgriMer, at a video press conference.

www.samigration.com

Mango to restart flights

04 June 2020 – News24

Mango Airlines will resume flights on Monday, June 15, between Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
Travellers must present a travel permit and letter from their employer authorising business travel. This will be checked at the entrance to airports and again at check-in and boarding, says CEO, Nico Bezuidenhout. “Important enough to say it twice: if a traveller does not have a relevant permit for essential or business travel with the appropriate sign-off, the traveller will not be granted access to the airport and may subsequently forfeit the purchased ticket.”
Due to extra regulatory and safety protocols, passengers are asked to arrive at least two-and-half hours prior to their flight. If guests are feeling unwell, or suspect they are ill, Mango will allow one free date change to re-accommodate the passenger. This is valid from June 5 for two months, Bezuidenhout says.
“We will be strategically seating passengers on board aircraft, with exceptions made for guests travelling together,” says Nico. It will be compulsory for pax and crew to wear cloth masks prior to entering aircraft. Catering will not be provided. Passengers are asked to bring along their own refreshments. Sanitiser will be provided and aircraft will continue to be cleaned between flights and deep-cleaned each night, Bezuidenhout says.
www.samigration.com

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