Without an ID, you are no one in your own country

22 September 2018, Pretoria News
Pretoria – I always knew where I belonged then my ID was stolen and I was nowhere and I was no one.
In my heart I am a South African. But for a short time I had nothing to prove this. This was terrifying, although I am in the lucky position to have an ID number and I am on the system. I was thus able to replace my most important document with relative ease.
Many people battle for years to try to prove who they are. I again realised it recently when desperate “faceless people” yet again had to turn to court to be able to belong somewhere
The Department of Home Affairs will not simply issue birth certificates and ID documents without being thoroughly convinced the person it issued one of these documents to was indeed South African.
But, on the other hand, even being a legal citizen can be hard to prove with often incompetent officials who do not really care to assist. Sometimes things are out of your hands, as in the case of a Cape Town father, who only realised five years ago that his now 11-year-old daughter’s birth was never registered.
This was not his fault. He made use of a private company when his daughter was born to register her birth.
He filled in the required documents and paid the fee. Ten days later the birth certificate was delivered at the hospital.
All went well and the father was even able to obtain a passport for his daughter. But to his shock he discovered five years ago that the birth certificate was fraudulent. This was when her passport had lapsed and he wanted to renew it.
Home Affairs told the father his daughter was not on their system.
This was the start of the father’s uphill battle to try to obtain a legal birth certificate for his daughter. He visited various Home Affairs offices and filled in the required documents.
The department questioned why the father did not have the proof of his application for the birth certificate 11 years ago. The father said he did not keep it. Who would after all these years?
The company did not respond and the hospital simply said it was not liable.
The child is meanwhile being home schooled, as no school wanted to accept her without any valid papers.
The father said it is a major problem, as his child is faceless. She cannot participate in any extramural activities and no school wanted to take her in. But the biggest problem is that without a birth certificate, she cannot obtain an ID document. Without this, she can basically not function as an adult, as she won’t be able to open a bank account or get a job.
The court ordered that Home Affairs had to tissue her with a birth certificate within 14 days.
In the same court a judge ordered that a boy, aged 12, be declared a South African citizen.
His parents managed to obtain this order with the help of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR).
The department refused to register his birth, as in the case of the 11-year-old, despite his right to be recognised as a South African citizen. This had also left him effectively stateless.
Two unknown children had been registered under his mother’s name at Home Affairs. One child was born a month after him and the department refused to register two children born within a month of each other.
Despite her complaints to remove the other children, Home Affairs had not investigated the matter since 2007.
The child remained unregistered despite being a South African citizen by law. His school refused him to further attend without a birth certificate. His mother was forced to send him to KwaZulu-Natal, where a rural school agreed to accept him.
In this case the court also intervened and ordered the department to issue him with a birth certificate.
LHR said it was concerned that the department’s lack of service delivery was rendering children stateless.
It said there was an urgent need for an independent complaints body (an ombudsman) for the department. It said Home Affairs had a long way to go to realise that these children had rights.
A birth certificate is the first step to “belong”, as Frederik Ngubane, who was born in South Africa realised. He lost his birth certificate when the taxi he was in was hijacked. All his belongings, including his birth certificate, were stolen.
Home Affairs refused to issue him with a South African ID, as he was unable to provide documented evidence that he was born here. Ngubane said his only evidence that he was a South African was his birth certificate.
The court referred the matter back to Home Affairs for a proper investigation into his circumstances.
According to the UN High Commission for Refugees, statelessness is a reality for about two million people around the world. It is a sad reality with dire consequences for many.

5 Key visa developments across the globe travellers need to know about

2018-05-29 – Traveller 24
Cape Town – It’s no secret South Africa’s Green Mamba is not the strongest passport in the world.
When it comes to visa-free travel, Saffas have access to some 100 countries across the world’s 200 modern borders, ranking as the third most powerful passport on the continent of Africa. But this does not even come close to the likes of Japan and Singapore, tied at 180 countries for the world’s most powerful passport, followed by Germany with access to 179 countries as the third most powerful passport globally.
South Africa has ranked 52nd overall in the 2018 Henley Passport Index with locals enjoying visa-free access to some 29 African countries.
So what are the latest visa developments – both related South Africans and the world at large? Take a look.
1. SA e-visas prioritised as sticky ease of access continues to hamper tourism growth
The roll-out of eVisas is expected to commence in Q4 this year, according to the DHA.
Set to be gradual roll-out starting with “Phase 1, Release 1, for applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas, applications for waivers, notifications to the applicant via email and biometrics captured at the Mission.”
The ePermit will be piloted at one Mission or local office in the last quarter of the next financial year by 31st March 2019. This is to ensure system stability. Once stable, more offices locally and abroad can then be gradually brought online, says the DHA
This is sure to make travel to South Africa much simpler and less complicated once it is up and running.
2. UAE sprints up the passport power rankings as Russia issues visa waiver for World Cup
The UAE appears to be sprinting up the ranks – making it the highest climber overall in global travel access growth.
While slipping in at 23rd place, the UAE has ascended 38 places since 2008. The country has secured more visa-waivers for its citizens in 2018 than any other jurisdiction in the world and is quickly closing in on the lead that Israel, in 19th place, has historically held within the Middle East region, according to Henleys.
3. SA plans to ease visa admin for holders of valid US, UK or Canadian visas
As South Africa awaits the implementation of the eVisas pilots in Q4 of this year, the DHA is looking to make it easier for travellers to enter SA if they have already been vetted through rigorous visa process abroad.
It intends to allow travellers with an active US, UK, Schengen, Canadian or Australian visa to be able to enter SA with a visa-on-arrival approval process.
SA’s Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom confirmed the DHA is still finalising this and that moving in the direction of online visas is however first prize. However, at least with this a significant amount of people who already have those visas would be able to come to South Africa, easily.
“Other key issues placed on the agenda for official discussion during the preliminary meeting with the Gigaba included scrapping the unabridged birth certificate requirement and the implementation of the strong advisory as concluded by the standing committee, as well as the issue of so-called swallows needing to return home in order to renew their visas after three months,” says Hanekom.
4. Saudi Arabia to launch tourist visas
Saudi Arabia has started issuing visas, in a first for the kingdom – as it undergoes major economic and social reforms.
Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz told AFP that “all government approvals” are in place for the launch of electronic visas to “all nationals whose countries allow their citizens to visit” Saudi Arabia.
The move to open up its tourism sector is a major shift for Saudi Arabia as powerful Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman seeks to radically overhaul the kingdom’s oil-dependent economy and shed its ultra-conservative image.
5. China excludes SA from new list of visa-free travel to its island of Hainan
China has unveiled plans to permit visa-free travel to its southern island of Hainan, as Beijing pushes international tourism to the tropical destination in another step to open up the region.
The new policy will start in May and allow travellers from 59 countries to visit Hainan for 30 days visa free, said Qu Yunhai, deputy director of the State Immigration Administration at a press conference in Beijing.Among the countries to be included in the programme are Russia, United States, France, Britain and Germany, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Ramaphosa to Ease Visa Rules to Boost South African Tourism, Sources Say

20 September 2018, – Bloomberg
• President revamps rules in a bid to stimulate flagging economy
• Existing rules blamed for drop in number of foreign visitors
South Africa’s cabinet decided to loosen visa rules and scrap a controversial travel requirement for children as it seeks to attract more investment and tourists, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The measures are among a series of initiatives to be announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday as he intensifies efforts to revive economic growth, said the people who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public yet. Africa’s most-industrialized economy entered its first recession since 2009 in the second quarter.
South Africa is particularly targeting travelers from China and India, two of the world’s fastest-growing outbound tourism markets, News24 reported in July, citing Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom. China accounted for 130 million travelers globally, with India forecast for have 50 million people traveling abroad by 2020, it said.
The number of visitors to South Africa from outside the continent declined 1.5 percent year-on-year in the first seven months of this year, according to Statistics South Africa data.
The government will ease work-permit requirements for scarce skills and simplify the process for business and leisure travelers to obtain short-term entry documents, the people said. Multiple-entry visas and electronic-visa applications will also be introduced, they said.
A requirement that traveling children be accompanied by one natural parent and that they have a full birth certificate stating the names of both parents is being scrapped. The measures, introduced in 2014 to reduce child trafficking, led to a drop in the number of visitors to South Africa.

UK is introducing a new two-year seasonal visa – here’s what South Africans need to know

UK is introducing a new two-year seasonal visa – here’s what South Africans need to know
15 September 2018 – News 24
The UK Home Government announced earlier this month that it will launch a two-year seasonal worker pilot scheme.
According to Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants, the scheme aims to bring 2,500 seasonal workers to farms in the UK.
The UK Visa pilot scheme will allow workers from outside the EU to do seasonal farm work in the UK for up to six months. There will be a cap of 2,500 workers per year.
“The UK government hope that the pilot scheme will help alleviate farm labour shortages during the peak production periods in the UK. They also said that an automated harvesting solutions are not universally available, and hope that this pilot scheme will support farmers during peak production times,” Breytenbachs explained.
“The results of the UK visa pilot scheme will be reviewed, and the UK Government will then determine how to support the long-term needs of the farming industry in the UK.”
It added that farmer unions in the UK reportedly welcomed the new visa pilot scheme but warned that it was not ambitious enough, as more workers are needed on UK farms.
According to Breytenbachs, to qualify under the Seasonal Worker Pilot the worker will have to be at least 18 years of age on the date of application. In addition, the scheme will only be open to workers from outside the European Union.
The UK Home Office said that the scheme will start in the spring of 2019, and will run until December 2020 – with more details expected to be announced closer to the launch date.
According to jobs website Indeed, farm labourers earn an average of £7.98 (R155) an hour across the UK right now.
The data shows a minimum salary of £6.65 (R130) an hour – rising to £12.05 (R233) for top earners.
However, the UK programme will likely be similar to other seasonal programmes (such as those in New Zealand and the US), where labourers are paid slightly more due to it being peak season, and may also be provided with accommodation.
It should also be noted that these salaries only apply to very basic labour positions, and more advanced/technical work may pay substantially more.

More details on South Africa’s new visa rules revealed

More details on South Africa’s new visa rules revealed
20 September 2018 – Bus Tech
South Africa’s cabinet decided to loosen visa rules and scrap a controversial travel requirement for children as it seeks to attract more investment and tourists, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The measures are among a series of initiatives to be announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday as he intensifies efforts to revive economic growth, said the people who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public yet.
Africa’s most-industrialised economy entered its first recession since 2009 in the second quarter.
South Africa is particularly targeting travellers from China and India, two of the world’s fastest-growing outbound tourism markets, News24 reported in July, citing Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom. China accounted for 130 million travellers globally, with India forecast for have 50 million people traveling abroad by 2020, it said.
The number of visitors to South Africa from outside the continent declined 1.5% year-on-year in the first seven months of this year, according to Statistics South Africa data.
The government will ease work-permit requirements for scarce skills and simplify the process for business and leisure travellers to obtain short-term entry documents, the people said. Multiple-entry visas and electronic-visa applications will also be introduced, they said.
A requirement that traveling children be accompanied by one natural parent and that they have a full birth certificate stating the names of both parents is being scrapped. The measures, introduced in 2014 to reduce child trafficking, led to a drop in the number of visitors to South Africa.

Mauritius tourist arrivals show 9.3% growth

Mauritius tourist arrivals show 9.3% growth
19 September 2018 – Tourism Update

International arrivals to Mauritius showed steady growth in August 2018, with China up 10.7% for the month.
The number of foreign visitors to Mauritius rose by 9.3% year-on-year to 109 471 in August 2018, compared with 100 191 for the same period in 2017, with notable growth from key source markets.
The largest increase in recorded arrivals for August 2018 compared with the same period the previous year were: India, up 18.2% with 6 714 visitors (5 681 previously); China, up 10.7% with 10 371 visitors (up from 8 619); Germany rose 10.5% with 8 010 visitors (up from 7 250); South Africa rose 20.3% with 10 371 visitors (up from 8 619); and the UK up 0.2% with 14 088 visitors (14 061 previously).
However, for the same period, the US was down 17.2% with 647 visitors compared with 781 previously; Spain down 1.3% with 2861 visitors (down from 2 899); and France, down 0.7%, with 19 003 visitors (19 138 previously).

The number of foreign visitors to Mauritius grew by 4% for the first eight months of the year.

Rule changes for travelling minors to SA planned ahead of busy December holiday season

Rule changes for travelling minors to SA planned ahead of busy December holiday season
2018-09-20 12:25 – News 24
and waivers will soon be announced – including changes to requirements for travelling minors in SA – to be officially gazetted in October.
Cabinet received a joint report from the Ministers of Home Affairs and Tourism – Malusi Gigaba and Derek Hanekom – which laid out many visa-related reforms that will make it easier for tourists, business people and academia to visit South Africa.
The biggest issue is the hoops foreign tourists have to jump through when travelling with minors and obtaining unabridged birth certificates, and changes to this regulation will also be included in the reforms, the state has confirmed.
There are also negotiations on visa waivers and relaxation of visa requirements from certain countries which are being finalised, and further details will be announced later this week.
This is expected to include China and India, as part of high-level agreements between the countries and South Africa that was announced in July during the BRICS summit.
According to the latest StatsSA figures for May 2018, compared to May 2017, Indian tourist arrivals to South Africa was down 12%, while China was up by 5%.
While the details of the Chinese visa agreement is not confirmed, Hanekom did mention that one of the options being considered was a “multiple entry Visa” that would be valid for five years and offer tourists up to 90 days in the country.
South Africa is also rolling out e-visas soon, set to be a gradual roll-out starting with “Phase 1, Release 1, for applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas, applications for waivers, notifications to the applicant via email and biometrics captured at the Mission.”
The ePermit will be piloted at one Mission or local office in the last quarter of the next financial year by 31 March 2019. This is to ensure system stability. Once stable, more offices locally and abroad can then be gradually brought online, says the DHA
This is sure to make travel to South Africa much simpler and less complicated once it is up and running.

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