Home Affairs officials nabbed over false IDs

Pretoria News – 31 August , 2020

Pretoria – In A strong message to the rotten apples within Home Affairs’ ranks, law enforcement officials nabbed three officials from the department and their partners for allegedly issuing fraudulent IDs.

The officials were arrested in separate operations in Emalahleni and Pretoria.

Edwell Muntu Monareng, a mobile operator from the Emalahleni Home Affairs office in Mpumalanga, was arrested in a sting operation involving the Hawks, SAPS Crime Intelligence and the department’s counter-corruption unit. He had allegedly paid a bribe of R13 000 to a an officer from the unit who was investigating him for birth certificate fraud. The bribe was to make the fraud charge disappear.

The officers reported the attempted bribe and a sting operation was arranged to arrest him when he paid the bribe.

Monareng was also being investigated for fraudulently registering a Pakistani national and issuing him a birth certificate.

Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said Monareng became the focus of the investigation after a member of the SAPS based at King Shaka International Airport questioned the Pakistani national, who was preparing to travel on a South African passport.

The Pakistani looked older than the age recorded in the fraudulent passport. Upon further investigation, they found his Pakistani passport with a different date of birth and surname.

The man was arrested and charged with possession of a fraudulent South African passport and contravention of the Immigration Act. The police referred the matter to the Home Affairs Counter-Corruption Unit.

“Using technology-enabled security features built into the system, an internal investigation established that Monareng had registered the Pakistani’s birth and issued a birth certificate. This birth certificate was later used to apply for the passport at the Empangeni Home Affairs office in KwaZulu-Natal.

“The investigation into Monareng also flagged another 131 transactions, suspected to be fraudulent and completed by Monareng between April 2018 and January 2019.

“The department is continuing with the investigation into the 131 suspected cases and will be initiating a disciplinary process against Monareng.”

Monareng, who was granted R3000 bail, will be back in court on October 9.

In a separate operation, law enforcement arrested Chinas Mohlolo, a former Home Affairs supervisor who left the department in September last year. Percy Mabena, an administrative officer at the Home Affairs office in Pretoria, and Zimbabwean nationals Thubelihle Nyathi and Khumbulani Moyo were also arrested.

The unit initiated an investigation after an official reported to them that Mohlolo had demanded the login details of the junior official.

Mohlolo then accessed the system and changed Moyo’s records to Callos Mazibuko, with a South African ID.

After Moyo’s arrest, he identified Nyathi, who is not a Home Affairs official, as the person who introduced him to Mabena.

“It is alleged that Mabena liaised with Mohlolo to have Moyo’s records fraudulently altered. The department is investigating transactions linked to both Mabena and Mohlolo. Disciplinary processes are being initiated against Mabena,” the department said.

All four accused appeared in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court on fraud and corruption charges. They also face additional charges of contravening the Immigration Act, the Identification Act and the Births and Deaths Registration Act.

Mabena and Mohlolo were granted R2000 bail, while Nyathi and Moyo were denied bail and remain in custody. The accused are scheduled to appear again on September 7.

Motsoaledi said he was encouraged that there were officials at Home Affairs and in the police who reported and acted swiftly to root out corruption. “We will continue to monitor all reported cases to ensure that perpetrators and beneficiaries of fraudulent activities are brought to justice and sent to jail where they belong. We are clearly benefiting from introducing technology-based security features in our processes.”

“It is only when people report suspected wrongdoing that we will turn the tide against maladministration, fraud and corruption. I support the efforts of law enforcement agencies in ensuring that all forms of maladministration are rooted out of the Department of Home Affairs.”

More South Africans are looking to move to Mauritius – here are the updated requirements

Business Tech 29 August 2020

 

The Mauritian government has made changes to investment thresholds, the extension of work, residence, retirement permits, and attractive property acquisition options.

 

This has led to renewed interest in the country from South Africans who are looking at Mauritius as a permanent destination, says Marisa Jacobs, director at advisory service, Xpatweb.

 

“Skilled professionals and business owners with families in South Africa are taking note of finance minister Renganaden Padayachy’s changes and adjustments for foreigners.

 

“It is now easier to buy property, work, as well as retire on the island, which is appealing for many, including business owners, corporates and families in South Africa who are looking for a new place to call home,” she said.

 

Changes in requirements

 

In the past, South African retirees were only able to obtain a three-year permit for Mauritius. This has been extended to 10 years, with the requirement that the individual earns a recurring income of $1,500 (R25,263) per month, said Jacobs.

 

The amount can be paid annually, quarterly, or monthly, as long as it works out to $1,500 per month.

 

“The extension from three to 10 years gives retirees more certainty about their future in the country. Mauritius’ Permanent Residence and Work Permits have been combined into a single permit and extended from ten to twenty years.”

 

Jacobs said that the minimum investment to obtain an Occupational Permit (OP) has also been halved from $100,000 to $50,000 (R842,115).

 

The parents of an OP holder may now obtain a dependent permit to live in Mauritius. Professionals who are working as independent contractors can qualify for the self-employment permit, she said.

 

The requirement for this permit is a deposit of $35,000 (R589,480) into their Mauritian bank account, and this permit is also valid for 10 years.

 

“Working professionals and self-employed individuals who want to move their spouse and ageing parents find these concessions favourable, especially if their dependents are no longer working.”

 

Property

 

Jacobs said that buying property is also a popular route of entry for those looking to move to Mauritius. In the past, foreign nationals were required to invest $500,000 in the property. This number has now been reduced to $375,000, she said.

 

“The dispensation for owning property in Mauritius is far more flexible than in most other African countries. In Mauritius, a South African is allowed to purchase a property as a freehold, or through a 99-year lease agreement with the option of renewal.”

 

Jacobs said that the island boasts excellent private schools, reputable banking systems, regulatory certainty, technology-driven government systems, as well as an efficient and linear tax system.

 

“The effective tax rate of 15% for individuals are well below those applicable to South Africa and other countries. A significant difference is that Mauritian residents are only taxed to the extent of the money that they bring into the country.

 

“These financial incentives, combined with the close proximity to South Africa, will likely see more people moving to Mauritius in the future. “

 

www.samigration.com

If you applied for a passport before lockdown you may now be able to collect it at some banks

Business Insider SA –  Aug 28, 2020

  • South Africa’s borders remain closed to most travellers, and you still can’t apply for a new passport.
  • There is no way to extend the validity of passports, the government says.
  • But those who applied for passports at bank branches before lockdown, at the end of March, can now collect those documents at 20 such branches.
  • Collections are only available on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
  • Here is the list of bank branches where you can collect your passport.

South Africa’s borders remain closed for most travellers, and for the time being the department of home affairs will not be accepting applications for new passports, home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Friday.

But some people who applied for passports before lockdown started may now be able to collect their documents.

Some of the banks that facilitate applications for identity documents and passports will open for collections on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Motsoaledi said.

Those banks will not accept new passport applications, and the online home affairs system for applications also remains closed. Only passports for emergency travel will be issued during Level 2, said Motsoaledi.

In total 20 bank branches will offer collections. They are:

  • Absa Greenacres in Port Elizabeth
  • Absa Sandton City, Johannesburg
  • Absa Towers in the Johannesburg CBD
  • Absa Lifestyle in Centurion
  • FNB Lifestyle Centurion
  • FNB Menlyn, outside Pretoria
  • FNB Merchant Place, Sandton, Johannesburg
  • FNB Portside in Cape Town
  • Investec Sandton, Johannesburg
  • Nedbank Arcadia, Pretoria
  • Nedbank Constantia Kloof, Roodepoort
  • Nedbank Rivonia, Johannesburg
  • Nedbank Nelspruit
  • Nedbank St George’s Mall in Cape Town
  • Standard Bank Simmonds Street, in Johannesburg
  • Standard Bank Canal Walk in Cape Town
  • Standard Bank Killarney Mall in Johannesburg
  • Standard Bank Centurion Lifestyle
  • Standard Bank Kingsmead, Durban
  • Standard Bank Jubilee Mall in Hammanskraal

There is an expectation that passports that have expired, or will expire soon, will have their expiry dates extended, said Motsoaledi, as has been done with the likes of driver’s licences. But that is simply not possible, he said.

“You can not extend a passport… you will never enter any country,” said Motsoaledi.

South Africans abroad will be issued with temporary, one-way passports, he said, so they can get home, but with embassies closed they can not apply for anything other than such emergency documents.

“I want this issue to be understood very clearly: we can not as some people have asked extend a passport through a stamp or whatever, passports are never extended.”

www.samigration.com

Investigation into R400-million EOH tender heats up

The Department of Home Affairs and the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) faced criticism from the parliamentary portfolio committee on Home Affairs in a meeting on Tuesday 25 August.

The committee was unanimously critical of the delay in concluding an investigation into missing “master files” for tender that involved migrating data on the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) to a new Automated Biometric Information System (ABIS).

This tender was awarded by Sita to EOH in 2017 and was worth R409 million.

Speaking during the parliamentary committee meeting on Tuesday, Sita said that EOH had wanted to hand the contract over to a subcontractor, a request which the agency would not accept as it was irregular.

The committee also lambasted Sita for losing the tender’s master file, stating that it is concerning that the state’s custodian for technology could misplace a document this crucial to affirming the legitimacy of a contract.

It noted that the Department of Home Affairs only appointed an audit firm to investigate the EOH tender in May 2020, stating that this delay was unfortunate.

“We find the delay unfortunate in the context that the committee had made recommendations for the urgent conclusion of the matter,” committee chairperson Bongani Bongo said.

“The fact that the Department of Home Affairs has only in May 2020 appointed SAB&T audit firm to investigate the entire tender process is unsatisfactory in the context that it will delay the conclusion of the investigation and perpetuate irregular expenditure around the contract.”

Patience running thin

The committee noted that the loss of the master file by Sita has led to an erosion of its legitimacy, adding that it believes it has been accommodating to both Sita and the Department of Home Affairs and the assurances from both that the investigation should be concluded.

“We are in agreement that the matter must be dealt with urgently and those that are found to be in the wrong are brought to book,” Bongo said.

The committee added that while it welcomes the reform of control measures of its supply chain management, its “patience for the conclusion of this matter has lapsed”.

It has subsequently stated that the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Communication and Digital Technologies, and Sita must give the committee clear progress in finalising the matter by the first week of October 2020.

“Furthermore, the committee has called for enhanced collaboration between the Department of Home Affairs and Department of Communications and Digital Technologies in finalising the investigation,” it said.

According to a report by EWN, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told the committee that he would not let this issue go.

“We can’t let this matter slip through our fingers, we can’t let it go,” he said.

“I am as angry as members here because I am now being dragged in front of this committee to try and answer questions about the deeds of other people.”

The report noted that Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams was unable to attend the meeting.

www.samigration.com

Africa’s people are under cyber attack and why we need more cyber security awareness and training on the continent

Africa has become the new hunting ground for cyber criminals and fraudsters looking to exploit user vulnerabilities.

2019 KnowBe4 African Report found that Africa is increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks. The report highlighted how vulnerable users were when it came to recognising cyber threats and managing their risk profiles. In 2020, Accenture released a report entitled: ‘Insight into the Cyberthreat Landscape in South Africa’ that revealed there are around 577 attempted malware attacks every hour. Cyber crime has turned towards Africa and is putting its people and organisations at risk.

“With cyber crime shifting its attention towards emerging economies and with Africa’s Internet penetration about to double to one billion Internet users by 2022, the African continent has become an attractive target for cyber crime,” says Anna Collard, Managing Director of KnowBe4 Africa. “A lot of these users will be connecting for the first time and will have very little awareness of the risks.”

And the risks are extensive. The Accenture report pointed out that in 2019, many of the attacks were successful, particularly against well-known organisations and service utilities. This draws a picture of a worrying trend that can fundamentally affect the lives and livelihoods of people on the continent.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the most financial transactions happening via mobile devices,” says Collard. “This is another reason why crime is paying attention. If users aren’t aware of the risks or don’t realise that their mobile devices put them at risk, then they are open to fraud and attack.”

ITWeb Security Summit 2020

Many people still think that mobile devices aren’t vulnerable to attack. They don’t realise that fake links, phishing e-mails, scams and malware are as easily perpetrated on a mobile device as they are on a PC. In fact, many cyber criminals use fake links and phishing messages to catch people who are unaware on WhatsApp or SMS. People are often more inclined to believe that a SMS or WhatsApp message is real and are lured into handing over important personal information using these channels.

“The problem is that many people can’t protect themselves because they don’t realise the extent of the threat or how to identify it,” says Collard. “They think they can – our survey found that around 55% of respondents believed they could identify a security threat and yet they gave away personal information or fell prey to scams. There is a desperate need for more education around cyber crime, how to identify it, and the methods that scammers use.”

The continent is lagging on security legislation and education, and is lacking security professionals who can support both business and government in refining their security postures and approaches.

“The high degree of digitisation, combined with the increase in mobile malware and sophistication of social engineering attacks, makes people more vulnerable than ever,” says Collard.

Training is essential in minimising risk. If people understand the processes and methods used by cyber criminals, they are more likely to identify them and to avoid making unnecessary mistakes.

“Training will help people to identify potential risks and be more alert before they commit to sharing information or clicking on images or links,” says Collard. “This can help Africa and its people push back against the rising tide of cyber crime and protect themselves and their personal information.

Table Mountain cableway to reopen

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway will reopen to domestic tourists from September 1.

MD, Wahida Parker, said the cableway would operate between 08h00 and 15h00 daily.

“Our goal is to ensure that every visitor has a world-class experience when enjoying the heritage and beauty of Table Mountain. We have taken every step to ensure that the health and safety of our visitors and staff remain our top priority,” said Parker.

Health and safety measures include a limit of 26 people plus the cabin master in the cable cars to ensure social distancing, deep cleaning of the cabins every 24 hours and sanitising after every ride. Guests will be required to wear masks and cashless transactions will be encouraged

www.samigration.com

Virgin Atlantic will pay for medical treatment, quarantine, and funeral if you catch Covid-19

Virgin Atlantic announced that any travel booked directly through the airline between August 24, 2020, and March 31, 2021, will come with complimentary coronavirus insurance.

  • Virgin Atlantic will offer free Covid-19 insurance to all of its passengers who travel between 24 August 2020, and 31 March 2021.
  • The insurance covers medical expenses, quarantine costs, and repatriation if medically necessary.
  • It also covers the cost of repatriating your body and your funeral if you die from the virus.

In late July, Emirates announced that it would pay for travellers’ medical treatment, hotel quarantine, and even funeral if they catch Covid-19 while traveling.

Now, Virgin Atlantic is introducing a similar policy.

The airline announced on its website that passengers will get complimentary coronavirus insurance of up to £500,000 (R11 million) for travel between 24 August 2020 and 31 March 2021.

Passengers are eligible for the insurance on Virgin Atlantic flights during this window whether or not they’ve already booked, according to the airline, provided their travel is booked through Virgin Atlantic directly.

Working with insurance company Allianz Assistance, Virgin Atlantic’s website says that its Covid-19 coverage extends to all coronavirus-related costs, from medical expenses to mandatory quarantine. And, in a worst-case scenario, up to £5,000 (R110,000) of funeral expenses are covered.

According to Virgin Atlantic, the insurance will take effect “with no restrictions on age, travel class, or length of journey.” Once you land at your destination, you are free to use other modes of transportation and visit other destinations and still be covered, the airline’s website says, as long as your return flight is also booked through Virgin Atlantic.

For one-way trips, the airline says the insurance will last 12 hours after the arrival time of the traveler’s last flight. However, it’s worth noting that this does not apply to one-way flights that take off on 31 March and land on 1 April.

One other thing to note: The insurance covers all bookings made through Virgin Atlantic, even if flights are operated by partners such as Delta, Air France, and KLM. However, according to Virgin Atlantic’s website, “If you purchased your ticket from delta.com or any another airline’s website, even if they are a partner airline of Virgin Atlantic, you will not be covered, even if one or more flights of your journey is on a Virgin Atlantic aircraft.”

According to Virgin Atlantic’s website, the policy does not have any exclusions for those with pre-existing medical conditions.

With coverage of up to R11 million, the policy has a higher cap than that of Emirates, which says it covers up to around R3 million through 31 October 2020.

You can find out more about Virgin Atlantic’s complimentary coronavirus insurance on the airline’s website.

Representatives for Virgin Atlantic did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

www.samigration.com