Queues of desperation: Zimbabweans race against time for work permits

Queues of desperation: Zimbabweans race against time for work permits
06 November 2017 – Times Live

LONG WAIT Desperate Zimbabweans seeking work permits queue for hours outside the Visa Facilitation Services office in Midrand
Thousands of Zimbabweans have to queue for hours in a desperate race against time to retain their legal status in South Africa.
An estimated 200,000 working Zimbabweans in South Africa use legal Special Dispensation Permits that expire on the last day of the year. However, former minister of Home Affairs Hlengiwe Mkhize gave a last-minute reprieve, allowing them to apply for a new work permit – the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit – by November 30.
Statistics from the South African embassy in Harare show visa applications have doubled since 2014. The embassy processes an average of 6,000 permits a month compared with 3,000 a month three years ago.
Maria Chiyangwa, a mother of two working as a helper, said: “Things are bad back home in Zimbabwe. It’s hard. I don’t mind going through a struggle to extend my permit in South Africa because at least here I can get a job [to] take care of my children. My husband and I are both this side; he’s a teacher and we are able to live with the help of his salary.”
Zimbabweans seeking exemption permits have to apply at 10 Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) centres and have fingerprints taken. But the sheer number of people still to be seen by the end of November has many deeply concerned.
There is only one VFS centre in Gauteng. People there described waiting to be seen four or more hours outside in the sun after scheduled appointments. The Midrand centre sees on average more than 1800 people a day and VFS staff leave as late as midnight.
Jiten Vyas, chief operating officer for Africa at VFS Global, said: “As of 3rd November 2017, 161304 applicants have successfully filled their forms and 121357 applicants have successfully booked their appointments [countrywide].”
Tens of thousands of appointments must be completed by month-end.
Mufaro Majange, selling funeral policies to Zimbabweans at the centre, said: “It’s always [crowded] like this – and there are so many [people] they have to serve. The [VFS] staff are doing a great job to be honest.”Many Zimbabweans asked not to be identified. They feared jeopardising their visa applications. One man said people were treated like “dogs” waiting in the heat. A woman described the temporary toilets as “stinky”.
Another said: “VFS should have charged more per permit to pay for [appropriate] centres instead of making us crowd like this. This is pathetic.”
Zimbabweans pay R1090 for a Zimbabwean Exemption Permit. Maxwell Rutsara, who sells juice, said applicants finishing late at night ended up “sleeping at the garage. They also sleep at a taxi rank near here.”
The managing director of Global Migration SA, Leon Isaacson, said: “The planning and facilities of VFS are clearly not good enough. It is a temporary solution and it is not adequate.”
One applicant questioned the rushed time frame. “I still want to believe the [SA] government is doing this to reduce the number of people on those permits.”
But Vyas of VFS said: “We are fully prepared and confident that we will complete the quantum of applications within the time lines as prescribed by the Department of Home Affairs.”
The department did not respond to queries about granting an extension for the process.

Home Affairs monitoring borders in wake of Zim political tension

Home Affairs monitoring borders in wake of Zim political tension
EWN – 15 November 2017
CAPE TOWN – The Home Affairs Department says it’s on high alert on the country’s northern borders in the wake of political instability in Zimbabwe.
Speaking at Parliament on Wednesday, Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan says the government is not anticipating a huge amount of movement of people at this time.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Southern Africa says it’s in constant contact with counterparts in Zimbabwe, who report that the situation is calm.
Deputy Minister Chohan has launched a new, machine-readable travel document for refugees in South Africa, that complies with international aviation and UNHCR guidelines.
She says her department is monitoring the situation on the border with Zimbabwe.
“We are preparing for any eventuality and we hope that things return to normal as soon as possible. That’s all we can say at this stage.”
The UNHCR’s regional representative Sharon Cooper says the commission is doing its best to stay abreast of the situation.
“We are with the government of South Africa monitoring the situation both from within Zimbabwe from the UNHCR perspective but also within South Africa. We are monitoring what’s happening on the border with the government.”
Home Affairs says its new travel documents will aid the safe and regular movement of refugees.

South Africans and the UK Visitor Visa

South Africans and the UK Visitor Visa
2017-11-15 – The South African

With the very large South African community living in the UK, it is no surprise that we receive many queries on the UK Visitor Visa.
Grandparents, parents, friends, and family all want to visit those fortunate enough to live in the UK. There is also a large number of persons wanting to visit the UK to explore business and job opportunities, before making a final decision about moving to the UK.
Do South Africans need a UK Visitor Visa to travel to the UK?
South African nationals are regarded as visa nationals by the UK Government. All South African citizens thus need to apply for UK Visitor Visas, before traveling to the UK.
How long beforehand can I apply for the UK Visitor Visa?
You are only able to apply for the UK Visitor Visa 3 months before you travel to the UK.
How long can I stay in the UK?
You can stay up to six months in the UK with the UK visitor visa. If you have received a visitor visa for a shorter period of time, it will be possible to extend your visa. You only have to ensure that the total time you spend in the UK is not more than 6 months.
If you travel to the UK frequently, it is also possible to apply for a long-term UK visitor visa.
These visas are valid for 2, 5 or 10 years. However, you are still only allowed to stay a maximum of 6 months during any given year. You are thus not allowed to basically live in the UK through frequent visits.
Do I need to take a Tuberculosis Test before I apply for the UK Visitor Visa?
No, there is no need to take a Tuberculosis (TB) test. This test is only required for South Africans applying for UK Visas that allow you to live in the UK for longer than six months.
Will I be allowed to attend a business meeting whilst in the UK as a visitor?
Yes, you will be allowed to attend a business meeting on a UK Visitor Visa.
There is a range of business activities that are allowed. Please feel free to discuss with one of our consultants if you are not sure whether your business activity is allowed or not.
Can I get married in the UK with the UK Visitor Visa?
You have to apply for the Marriage Visitor Visa. This visa will allow you to marry, register a civil partnership or give notice of marriage or a civil partnership.
Please feel free to contact one of our consultants with regards to the requirements and type of documents needed for this visa.
Can I apply for another type of UK Visa while I am in the UK as a visitor?
No, you are not allowed to switch to another type of UK visa whilst in the UK. You have to return to South Africa, and submit the application for the visa or permit from there.

School Exchanges – SA Leading Destination?

School Exchanges – SA Leading Destination?
14 November 2017 – SA Good News
This week I received a letter from Jackie Verall in the UK who runs school exchange programmes.
“I was wondering if I could bore the pants off you with an editorial or a blog about how my little UK company is cutting a swathe through Europe offering high school experiences in South Africa. No, it’s not a plug for my business but just to say how South Africa is booming in Europe and kids are coming a plenty to study and experience the great South African way.”
I came to Cape Town eight years ago, fell in love with it and deemed I would expand my business, somehow, to include SA.
Dream achieved and it’s great
Importantly we are offering limited economic help for host families and schools. This chain of my company doesn’t take any profit. After everyone has been paid the residue goes to township and other worthy causes.”
– Jackie Verrall ( jackie@englishlanguagehomestays.co.uk )
Chasing the Sunshine; the Language and the Surf!
Trends are a wonderful thing, especially if you are on the winning side and, it would appear, that South Africa, or more particularly Cape Town, is definitely on the winning side for European High School students.
After doing a stint in the more mundane towns in England or, perish the thought, America, the European kids wanted more. Not for them the slightly chi chi places of New England or the robust landscape of Brisbane. No, they want action; adventure; sunshine and surf.
So, whilst many countries throughout the World are noticing a downturn in business due to the perceived terrorism threat, South Africa seems to be experiencing a boom. What started off for us as a “side-line” to our British High School programmes has now blossomed into an expanding – often sold out – programme with High Schools throughout the Cape.
Best of all these European students are simply embracing the South African way of life and not only improving their English but taking on Volunteering in their spare time; learning to surf; finding out about the complex South African history and making new and lifetime friendships from diverse backgrounds.
We started off working with one High School and now we have nine as well as two Colleges. Our High School subscriptions start almost a year in advance and we often find ourselves over-subscribed. The bonus for South African families lies in the fact that they are paid, rather well, to host these students which pumps money into the local economy. The schools are also paid and added to this, the European kids come and pay for excursions; Tours and lessons in anything they can that’s South African…..

PS MASILELA, CHIEF IMMIGRATION OFFICER MUST BE REMOVED FROM HOME AFFAIRS

PS MASILELA, CHIEF IMMIGRATION OFFICER MUST BE REMOVED FROM HOME AFFAIRS
2017-11-14 – Swazi Observer
Home Affairs Principal Secretary (PS) Anthony Masilela and Acting Chief Immigration Officer Makhosi Simelane should be transferred from the ministry of home affairs.
This was said in the House of Assembly when Zombodze Emuva MP Titus Thwala moved that the House adopt the report of the select committee investigating the influx of illegal immigrants, particularly of Asian origin.
Thwala, who is the chairman of the committee, was seconded by Mtfongwaneni MP Mjuluko Dlamini.
The House of Assembly recommended that the investigations should not happen while the two officers were still in office. The MPs also recommended that Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Edgar Hillary should be given the report of the Asian committee so that he gives it to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to further investigate it further.
In the meantime, illegal Asians in the country should be investigated by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). The intention would be to deport all illegal Asians to their original countries. The investigations by the ACC should date back 20 years ago. The committee was also advised by the citizenship board that nothing would happen while Masilela and Simelane were still at Home Affairs. The MPs acknowledged that the ACC was independent and was not answerable to Parliament.
They would not directly instruct the ACC to investigate the matter, but would only call the justice ministry to account after six months.
‘Illegal Asians pay E45 000 for passports’
Illegal Asians were made to pay E45 000 to get passports for them to easily go to the developed world.
This was said by Zombodze Emuva MP Titus Thwala, when motivating MPs to adopt the report. He stated that Asians were made to pay E45 000 for Swazi documents like visas, permits, and passports.
Thwala submitted that passports were given at such huge amounts because they were in demand by the Asians.
The Asians found difficulties in travelling to the developed world like Europe and America when using their Asian travel documents.
They had to get Swazi travel documents so that they could easily travel to the developed world.
Masterminds
The Zombodze Emuva legislator mentioned that in their report, Principal Secretary Anthony Masilela and Acting Chief Immigration Officer Makhosi Simelane were the masterminds of the alleged mess at Home Affairs. The E45 000 was allegedly paid to them.
During the investigations, the committee was once furnished with a document that had a list of 19 Asians that are said to have applied for the Swazi passports. However, the committee found that only one of the 19 Asians had made the application and the other 18 had not.
But they were all given the passports.
Paid
The Asians are said to have all allegedly paid the E45 000 to the two officers.
This means the officials could have made E855 000 from this incident alone.
Thwala said the two officials could not have been alone when doing this.
They could have also used some of the staff members to do their shenanigans but they were the masters of the now stinking situation in the ministry.
Masilela is also blamed for forcing drivers and other workers in the ministry to pay bribes.
The workers would pay the bribes because the PS would have recommended them to go on external trips in neighbouring countries. The workers would be made to pay E1 000 bribes to the principal secretary because they would have been given allowances for their external trips.
Thwala said that was the reason why they were made to recommend that both Masilela and Simelane be transferred from home affairs.

Union boss suspended amid probe into fake ID document

Union boss suspended amid probe into fake ID document
Pretoria News 1 November 2017
Pretoria – Embattled SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) Gauteng secretary Gift Ndwandwe has been placed on suspension in connection with information that he fabricated his South African identity.
The investigation, undertaken by the Department of Home Affairs into the legality of his citizenship, revealed he faked his South African nationality and was actually a Zimbabwean national.
The union’s national deputy general secretary Zacharia Mosothoane confirmed that Ndwandwe was suspended on Monday pending an internal probe to establish the truth regarding his alleged fraudulent activities.
“It is true that he has been suspended. We have decided that he could not sign documents of the organisation and have access to funding of the organisation pending the internal investigation by the union,” Mosothoane said.
He said the union had requested information from the department, which would include the admission by Ndwandwe that he was caught in the wrong.
Ndwandwe was arrested on October 4 for being in possession of a South African ID that was obtained fraudulently.
He was subsequently released on October 6 by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court after his lawyers indicated they would lodge an appeal application against his deportation at the High Court.
Yesterday, department spokesperson Thabo Mokgola declined to shed light on developments into Ndwandwe’s citizenship row with the department and the subsequent legal proceedings.
He also refused to comment on why Ndwandwe had not been deported to his country of origin in the wake of Home Affairs’ findings regarding his illegal documentation.
“Kindly note the Department of Home Affairs is not in a position to comment on the matter as it is a subject of a legal process,” Mokgola said.
Ndwandwe could not be reached for comment yesterday. He had previously refused to be drawn into the subject, saying: “I don’t have any comment on that matter.”
The Pretoria News understands that the union acted against Ndwandwe following a letter from the department, instructing the union’s payroll officials to terminate his contract with immediate effect.
Ndwandwe was elected as Satawu secretary in 2015 following the cold-blooded killing of former secretary Chris Nkosi, who was gunned down in Ekurhuleni.
He rose to the top position amid much displeasure from some members that he was not capable of grasping union issues.
The controversy surrounding his legality in the country emerged three months after the national union’s general secretary Zenzo Mahlangu was deported to Zimbabwe for being in the country without the necessary permits.
Ndwandwe used to be Mahlangu’s bodyguard and head of union security before he was elected as its provincial secretary.
Pretoria News
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The Department of Home Affairs has no idea how a British national managed allegedly to smuggle his three children from Johannesburg through the Lebombo border post into Mozambique without their mother’s consent. Despite the Department of Home Affairs’ stringent laws on children travelling in and out of the country‚ the department still has no idea how a British national managed allegedly to smuggle his three children from Johannesburg through the Lebombo border post into Mozambique without their mother’s consent.

Home Affairs can’t explain kids allegedly smuggled out of SA
31 October 2017 – Times Live

The Department of Home Affairs has no idea how a British national managed allegedly to smuggle his three children from Johannesburg through the Lebombo border post into Mozambique without their mother’s consent.

Despite the Department of Home Affairs’ stringent laws on children travelling in and out of the country‚ the department still has no idea how a British national managed allegedly to smuggle his three children from Johannesburg through the Lebombo border post into Mozambique without their mother’s consent.
“The department has launched an investigation into the matter. This entails going through the movement-control system to determine where there could have been any breaches‚” said department spokesman Thabo Mokgola. This was three weeks after the department was supplied with the children’s passport numbers‚ to verify what documents were supplied by the children’s father‚ Abdul Tarmohamed‚ to legally allow them to pass through.
The legislation states that when one parent is travelling with a child‚ the parent staying at home must provide an affidavit providing consent for the child to travel with the other parent‚ as well as copy of their identity document or passport.
But 14 months after they left‚ Somiya Basar insists that she did not have a say in her children‚ aged 11‚ 10 and three‚ leaving the country.
“I cannot give up on my children. I will fight… until I have them with me again‚” Basar told TimesLIVE.
She is originally from India‚ and her children were born in Mozambique. Tarmohamed has business interests in South Africa’s neighbour‚ and the couple lived in Mozambique for a few years before relocating to Johannesburg.
Basar said that following the collapse of her marriage‚ her husband had started their divorce proceedings‚ and she was served papers stating that he had been awarded temporary custody of the children by a Mozambican court. The children‚ however‚ were at the time living and attending school in South Africa. The order had been granted without her ever being ordered to come to court‚ alleged Basar.
A legal battle ensued‚ in which she was eventually granted temporary custody by the High Court in Pretoria‚ pending a decision on whether the children would go to Mozambique to be with their father or remain with their mother‚ who intended to relocate to the United Kingdom‚ where she has family.
On the children’s last day in South Africa‚ Tarmohamed asked to take them out for a few hours‚ Basar said. They never returned.
“The court in Mozambique [then] awarded him full custody‚ because they were unaware there was another custody battle in South Africa. He told them that I was [missing].”
The Brit was nabbed in South Africa several weeks later‚ and charged with contempt of a court order and wrongful removal of the children. After numerous bail applications‚ he was granted R50‚000 bail in April.
He told the Randburg Magistrate’s Court that he had known nothing about the court order that barred him from taking the children.
On Tuesday‚ he returned to court to face these charges‚ and a separate one of allegedly assaulting his ex-wife. Basar alleges that in December 2015‚ he had dragged her alongside his car‚ injuring her heels.
The court ruled that while it was not fully convinced of Tarmohamed’s version – that he was not aware that she had been hanging onto the car when he sped off – it would give him the benefit of the doubt.
He was found not guilty of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. In the separate matter regarding the children‚ the case was postponed to November 6.
Basar said she that had never interacted with the prosecutor who handled her children’s case on Tuesday. She was told another prosecutor would be handling the matter from the next court appearance.
As the legal process draws out‚ the children remain in Mozambique‚ under the care of Tarmohamed. Basar‚ whose visa forces her to leave South Africa every few weeks‚ says she has seen her children only a handful of times‚ for just a few minutes at a time‚ on the occasions she has travelled to Mozambique.
If she’s lucky‚ she says‚ she speaks to her children once a week on their father’s cellphone.
The petite‚ soft-spoken woman tried to remain upbeat following Tuesday’s proceedings. She sat next to the prosecutor who had handled her assault case‚ trying to ask questions. Seemingly uninterested‚ the prosecutor played an electronic crossword puzzle on her phone.
Basar continued to put on a brave face. “I’m okay‚” she told TimesLIVE‚ as she left the court.

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