Nov 24, 2014 - Business Permit    No Comments

Special Zim permit deadline looms

2014-11-20 News24

Cape Town – Around 64% of Zimbabweans working in the country on a dispensation permit have applied for an extension until 2017, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said in Cape Town on Thursday.
He was confident that the 249 000 people in the country on a Dispensation for Zimbabwe Project permit would apply for the new Special Dispensation Permit (SDP). The deadline is 31 December.
Only those with the initial permit would be allowed to apply. Those without a permit would have to go through the normal routes to obtain a work, travel, or study visa.
Zimbabweans in the country illegally were granted an opportunity from 2009 to legalise their stay via the permit, as a result of the political and socio-economic conditions in their country.
Gigaba said those with the old permit could apply via a website for the SDP. They would be issued a barcode, a track and trace number, and a date for a face-to-face interview.
Gigaba visited the Cape Town branch of VFS Global – the company dealing with the applications – on Thursday morning to assess the process.
People patiently queued for their interview while holding onto their passports and proof of employment, business, or study.
Biometric photographs and fingerprints were taken. Fingerprints were submitted to the police’s automatic fingerprint identification system to check for criminal records and results were returned within two days.
Gigaba said completed applications were submitted electronically to home affairs for adjudication and concluded within a month to two months.
Just over 20% of applications had been adjudicated so far.
He anticipated that all permits should be issued by the end of April.
Gigaba said they would soon begin a similar process for the Basotho, Mozambicans, and other Southern African Development Community nationals.
“The processes are not going to be open-ended. We are going to be strict about it,” he said.
There are 11 visa facilitation centres in the country and four new centres for Gauteng, Western Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, where there had been a high number of applications.
– SAPA

Nov 18, 2014 - Business Permit    No Comments

SA can’t save ‘killer’ from execution

Olebogeng Molatlhwa | 18 November, 2014 Times Live

The South African government has conceded it has no control over the fate of Botswana national Edwin Samotse, who might be sentenced to death if convicted of murder
Africa was once in a firm position to negotiate with the Gaborone government not to impose the death penalty were Samotse to be found guilty of murder. But South Africa lost that advantage when Home Affairs officials deported Samotse to Botswana without ensuring whether he would be spared the death penalty were he to be found guilty. Samotse had been on the run from the law following the alleged murder of a woman in that country in 2010.
He was arrested in Botswana in March 2010 on a charge of murder, and fled to South Africa in March 2011. He was detained at the Polokwane police station while awaiting extradition proceedings but was deported on August 13.
On September 23, Judge Eberhard Bertelsman ruled in the Pretoria High Court that Samotse’s deportation was unlawful and unconstitutional.
The judge ordered the department to investigate the circumstances surrounding his handing over to Botswana authorities.
But Botswana had no obligation to accede to South Africa’s pleas and protestations, said spokesman for the Department of Home Affairs Mayihlome Tshwete.
Tshwete said the department had complied with the court’s instruction to investigate Samotse’s deportation and report back to it. “There are people appearing for disciplinary hearings as we speak,” he said.

Nov 18, 2014 - Business Permit    No Comments

South Africans not big on pilgrimage travel

Penwell Dlamini | 17 November, 2014 – Times Live

Religious tourism in South Africa is extremely low and those in the sector only work to facilitate trips from to the Middle East, Europe and northern parts of the continent.
Data from Statistics SA shows that a total of 3.21 million travellers (arrivals and departures) passed through South African ports of entry in March 2014. These travellers were made up of over 770 000 South African residents and 2.4 million foreign travellers.
The volume of arrivals for South African residents increased by 19.4% month-to month while their departures increased by 23.8%. The data is collected by Home Affair at the ports of entry.
Detailed information on the departure of travellers is not available in the movement control system. Data on the purpose of travel and the number of days South African residents intend to spend or spent abroad are not collected by the Department of Home Affairs. This make it difficult to establish the number of South Africans living the country on religious pilgrimages.
Elna Ferreira, founder of Holy Sites Travel, arranges pilgrimage from South Africa to “holy sites” in Europe and the Middle East.
His clients mostly visit Israel, Palestine the Vatican in Rome and other religious attractive sites in France, Portugal and Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
Ferreira specialises in mostly Catholic visits and believes the population of the church in South Africa is too small for such tourism to thrive.
Holy Sites Travel facilitates six to eight pilgrimages a year in groups of 20 to 50 people. But it is not the most thriving tourism sector in the country.
“This year I had a lot of cancellation at the beginning of the year when the rand weakened against the dollar. But it is already picking up for next year. If you do Jewish to Christian pilgrimage, the numbers can be higher but I chose to focus on Catholic visits, hence my numbers are lower,” she said.
Ferreira said the instability in the Middle East earlier in the year, somehow did not affect her business. “Not at all. I took two groups to the holy land. One group in August and another September,” she said.
People visiting holy sites normally stay between 10 and 14 days.
The culture of visiting religious sites is just not there, Ferreira said.
“It is not in the culture of the South African people. I think we are a predominantly Christian country but people are not that religious.”
Ben Yitzhan, CEO of Heavenly International Tours, said “Currently travel is very low because of the fear on Ebola and the conflict that was in Egypt last year but it should pick up next year”.
Yitzhan said at least 2000 visit sites in Israel a year. Other sites visited are in Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and Italy.
There is also no records of people who visit South Africa on religious pilgrimages. Medi reports show that there are visits to Zuurbekom in Westonaria. The visitors normally come from Southern African Development Community to see the International Pentecostal Church of Christ for its weddings where over 400 couples tie the knot in once ceremony.
Other visits in the area are to the Nazareth Baptist Church, known as Shembe. There are also visits to Buddhist temple in Bronkhorstspruit, 50km, east of Pretoria.

Portugal minister quits over ‘golden visas’

2014-11-17 News24

 

Lisbon – Portugal’s Interior Minister Miguel Macedo resigned on Sunday, three days after top officials were detained in a corruption scandal over “golden visas” for wealthy foreign investors.

Several senior government officials, including the head of the border service, were arrested after police raids on the interior ministry and offices linked to the justice ministry.

Macedo, who claimed he “had no personal responsibility” for the affair, said he had quit to “defend the government and the authority of the state and the credibility of its institutions”.

– AFP

Nov 17, 2014 - General, Visa    No Comments

SA threatens to ground Emirates

Nov 16 2014 Fin24

 

Johannesburg – South Africa has threatened to ground Emirates unless a minister of the United Arab Emirates meets Transport Minister Dipuo Peters in the country by Mondayl..

According to the Sunday Times, the sudden move came on Friday after a junior official issued the ultimatum through the UAE embassy.

With the holiday season approaching, the move poses a huge risk to thousands of travellers who use Dubai as a connecting point from Europe, USA and Australia among other countries.

Due process

The row is reportedly centred around the introduction of a fourth daily flight between Durban and Johannesburg – a move that was granted in July but hurriedly withdrawn by the department which told the airline that due process had not been followed and permission was withdrawn.

Two weeks ago, Emirates filed papers in the North Gauteng High Court and obtained an order compelling the Department of Transport to honour the written authorisation for the additional flight.

In July, News24 reported that Emirates was given the go ahead by government to introduce a fourth daily flight between Dubai and Johannesburg.

The airline announced in a media release that it was lifting its number of daily flights to South Africa to seven.

This would have increased the total number of scheduled flights between the two countries to 49 a week, re-affirming its position as one of the largest flight operators into South Africa.

Travel plans

In addition to Johannesburg, Emirates also services the popular cities of Cape Town and Durban.

Linking South Africa with Emirates’ global network, the additional flight demonstrates the importance of the South African market for Emirates.

“We are introducing our fourth daily service between Dubai and Johannesburg to meet the growing passenger demand for flights between these two important business and tourism hubs.

“The increased frequency gives our customers greater flexibility in their travel plans and enhances connectivity to other flights on the Emirates network through our Dubai hub,” said Orhan Abbas, Emirates senior vice president, commercial operations, Latin America, Central and Southern Africa at the time.

SA has 3rd highest number of asylum seekers worldwide

Masa Kekana | 12 November 2014 – Eye Witness News

CAPE TOWN – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says South Africa has the third highest number of asylum seekers in the world.

According to the UNHCR, about 70,000 refugees applied for asylum in South Africa in 2013 alone.

The UNHCR’s Southern African representative, Clementine Nkweta-Salami, told Parliament’s portfolio committee on Home Affairs that South Africa has a commendable asylum policy.

But she added that issues like poverty and unemployment often fuel hostility towards foreigners in some communities.

The UNHCR says about 70,000 refugees applied for asylum in South Africa last year alone.

Nkweta-Salami told Parliamentarians it was the third highest in the world in 2013.

Germany ranked first, with the United States coming in second place.

Nkweta-Salami says refugees come to South Africa because the Constitution and laws provide them with some protection, although there are often problems with host communities and system backlogs.

“The legal framework is still of the best.”

Somalia, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Eritrea have been revealed in the report as four of the top 10 refugee producing countries in the world.

Nov 14, 2014 - General, Visa    No Comments

Home Affairs undergoes major transformation

New Era

12 November 2014

WINDHOEK – The Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, says her ministry’s turnaround strategy has been a huge success, cutting layers of bureaucracy at the ministry.

The turnaround strategy that was launched in May is intended to transform the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration into a highly effective organisation with faster turnaround times, effective systems, shorter queues, efficient offices and improved customer service.

Speaking at a press conference held in the capital, Iivula-Ithana said the first phase of the strategy that focuses on three key areas – front offices, passports and ID production – has been impressive.

Highlighting the achievements of the first phase, in a jovial mood she said the interior office space has been redesigned to improve customer flow and streamline the queuing process.

Focus was also put on the layout and cleanliness of the office space in order to provide a professional environment for both employees and the public.

The turnaround strategy also focuses on the new signage aimed at giving general information to customers on the services offered, times, costs and on any other frequently asked questions.

“I promised the citizens of our country that we will deliver services better, faster and smarter with the aim of contributing to building a performance-oriented ministry and government as a whole,” she enthused.

The ministry also set up a help desk at the main office and dedicated information officers help customers upon entrance with advice on what service they need, provide them with the correct application forms and direct them to the correct queues and counters.

Commending her team for a job well done, she stressed that a backlog of more than 3 000 passports was cleared within the first month, while the processing of passports for Windhoek residents takes less than 3 days, while the processing time for regional passports has also decreased to less than 3 days, which is a 77 percent improvement, she noted.

On the issuance of IDs it now only takes two months for new applicants to get an ID.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has also improved their dispatching system with the introduction of a daily passport dispatcher, meaning that passports printed are distributed to the various regions on the same day of printing.

At the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration the transformation is evident because the queues are now much shorter than before, information officers assist people on any queries, people in queues are seated and the environment is clean.

The 18-month strategy will cost N$126 million.