Heavy hand on visa laws

visa+passportThe current law fines foreigners who outstay their visas.

An amendment to the Immigration Act was gazetted in December and is due to be fast-tracked to become law. It now proposes that a person who overstays their visit to the country, even by one day, cannot get a visa to re-enter South Africa and cannot apply for a residence permit to live here.

They could also be banned for up to five years and appealing any decision or explaining what led to the transgression can take up to 18 months.

This sanction applies to first-time offenders as well.

The proposed law’s proponents argue that fines are not a sufficient deterrent to foreigners who overstay their visas.

Leon Isaacson, managing director of Global Migration SA, said the proposed law was not flexible and did not allow people who overstayed due to an emergency, illness, or by accident to be treated differently to visitors who stayed too long on purpose.

He said last month some Americans could not return home due to heavy snow in the US that led to a cancellation of flights for four days. This meant the Americans remained for four days longer than intended and overstayed their visas.

Source

Mos Def case postponed as State wraps up investigation

He was flanked by family and friends as he walked along the corridor to where Home Affairs officials waited near the court room.

He was arrested at Cape Town International Airport for not being in possession of a valid passport.

The artist‚ who goes by the name of Yasiin Bey‚ is fighting to remain in the country with his family.

After a brief appearance the state asked that the matter be postponed to finalise its investigation.

His next court appearance is March 24.

Last month‚ his wife and four children were granted an interim order to stay in the country pending their application to stay in South Africa while the legal system dealt with his case. The family’s visas had expired in April 2014.

Mos Def’s lawyer‚ Shaheid Schrueder‚ had asked the court “to allow them as a family to stay together and leave together if and when the matter is disposed of”

“There are seven members of the family and minor children. They need to leave together with mother‚ father and grandmother to whichever destination they choose.”

Despite the legal turmoil‚ Schrueder said then that Mos Def was having a good time.

“He is on holiday‚ he is doing nothing and is enjoying his time with his family‚ and that is exactly why he is here in South Africa‚” Schrueder said. “His bail conditions have been relaxed and he is just to remain in the country at this stage. He does not have to sign at the police station

Uncertain fate for xenophobia refugees

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07 March 2016 at 19:36pm

Durban – It has been almost a year since xenophobia reared its ugly head in KwaZulu-Natal, yet the future of more than 100 refugees still hangs in the balance as they pin their hopes on the UN sending them to another country, “where we will be safe”.

Speaking to the Daily News on Sunday, Musa Zakwe, of the South African Council of Churches – which has been supporting the refugees – said the group had left Hope Farm, Cato Ridge, where they had been housed for seven months by owners Andrew and Rae Wartnaby, on Tuesday last week.

Relations between the Wartnabys and some of the refugees had become strained in recent months with threats made on the family’s lives.

Zakwe said the UN Refugee Agency, UNHRC, might only be able to relocate some of the refugees to another country after a long process which would involve individual assessment and would not be a wholesale solution.

They were advised of this at a meeting, but when it turned out they would not return to Hope Farm, they were accommodated at a shelter in Durban’s CBD for the night.

A week later, and the women and children are still there, living in squalor in a 15-bed room with access to only one toilet on their floor.

The men are housed in another room on another floor with barely any space to step between their mattresses or bed bases.

Among them is Beby Irakoze who gave birth to her fifth child, Rae, five months ago at Hope Farm.

Another Congolese woman, Anna Zawadi is eight months pregnant. Both women are concerned about sanitation and want to take their children to live in a safe environment.

Zakwe said there was no money to pay for the shelter and the way they were living was unsustainable. He said the council advocated integrating the refugees into the communities where they had lived before the March and April xenophobic violence last year.

But the refugees fear going back into the communities and are afraid to venture out of the shelter into town because of their experience of xenophobia.

Zakwe said there was no reason for the refugees to feel unsafe in the city. They were not identifiable as foreigners, he said. “But I do understand why they are afraid,” he said. “They have been living in seclusion for some time and it is a normal reaction.”

On Friday, a meeting was held to discuss the matter.

A spokesman for Premier Senzo Mchunu said social workers had been tasked with doing profiles and the premier was co-ordinating assistance for the group.

“The premier’s priority is the 58 children who are living in conditions where sanitation is questionable and there is a shortage of water. They are also not going to school,” said Ndabezinhle Sibiya.

It was yet to be decided what to do next for the displaced families.

Mchunu was due to release a report by the special reference group on the xenophobic violence later this week.

The group – headed by former UN high commissioner for human rights, Judge Navi Pillay – undertook a study of the underlying causes, possible solutions and other factors.

Andrew Wartnaby said of the group’s leaving, that it had been “quite amazing”.

“The situation had deteriorated so drastically and their living conditions were so bad, we didn’t want them here anymore,” he said, “And they didn’t want to be here.”

After meeting the UNHRC, the group left of its own accord, he said.

In December the Daily News’s sister paper, the Sunday Tribune reported the Wartnabys had been living like prisoners in their own home after Andrew’s life was threatened by disgruntled refugees.

They accused him of being a government agent and claimed he was starving them and benefiting financially from donations made by those who wanted to help the displaced immigrants.

The refugees were also divided, with a rebel group denouncing their elected leader.

Wartnaby told the Sunday Tribune he was terrified to walk on his farm after a fire broke out. It was believed to have been started by the rebel group burning a tent.

“I am very scared of this group. It does not feel safe here. They threatened to cut off my head and kill my family. I walk very carefully around here. We have public order police on site every night since the incident occurred. I feel like a prisoner in my own house. It is a difficult situation,” Wartnaby said.

The Wartnabys took in the refugees – from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi – after the eThekwini Municipality closed the refugee camp where they had been staying in Chatsworth in June last year.

Anna Zawadi, from the Congo, who is eight months pregnant with her fifth child worries about the future of her children. They are living in squalor at a Durban CBD shelter after moving there last week.

Although the more than 100 refugees are supposed to leave the shelter during the day, they do not venture out into town, because they are still afraid after last year’s xenophobia.

July Sabuni prepares a meal in the crowded room she shares with other women refugees and their children.Xenophobia Durban

Nigerians In South Africa Urge Authority To Relax Visa Restriction

Nigerians living in South Africa have urged the Federal Government to prevail on its South African counterpart to relax the permit/visa restrictions for Nigerians as obtained in other African countries.

The President of Nigeria Union in South Africa (NUSA), Mr Ikechukwu Anyene, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday.

Anyene urged President Muhammad Buhari to use the occasion of President Jacob Zuma’s two-day visit to Nigeria to address their concerns.
He said that law-abiding Nigerians in South Africa were facing difficult situations on a daily basis.

He said that immigration laws in South Africa were recently reviewed and had practically rendered a lot of foreign nationals, including Nigerians illegal immigrants.

“It has now become very difficult to acquire South African permits; Nigerians in South Africa are made to face numerous bottlenecks when trying to renew their temporary residence permits.

“The same thing cannot be said of South Africans visiting or working in Nigeria.
“We feel it will be fair if South African authorities can relax the permit and visa restrictions for Nigerians as they have done for Southern African countries like Zimbabwe and Lesotho,” he said.

He said that the union was willing to work with the foreign ministry to project the good image of Nigeria.
Anyene said that the union was always willing to support the efforts of South African authorities in maintaining law and order within Nigerian communities in that country.

He said that the union had developed an identity card for all Nigerians in collaboration with the Consulate General in Johannesburg.
“We will like to suggest that the identity card be given recognition as another means of identification alongside others,“ he said.

He also appealed to the Federal Government to urgently intervene in the delay in acquiring a replacement passport when they lose their passports.

“This can be done by empowering the immigration officials at our various consulate offices to approve the re-issuance of lost passports instead of the current process of waiting for approval from Abuja,” he said. (NAN) – leadership.ng

Holding thumbs that Home Affairs updates work for the better – written by Grant Foster

 

If it will only make the queues shorter next time we need a new ID card, we give the Department of Home Affairs’s upgrade of Live Capture System all the thumbs up we can muster.Home-Affairs March 2016

The Department says it will be working most of this week to upgrader their systems and this means the smart ID card and passport services will not be available. Wit a bit of luck full services will resume on Thursday – but only after the testing of the enhanced systems has been completed.

The upgrade will affect 142 Home Affairs offices that use the Live Capture System. All other Home Affairs services will be available at offices across the country, including services like issuing of birth, death and marriage certificates.

Changes include updating software to make it compatible with the new changes being made in improving the collection side of smart ID cards and passports, and introducing new developments to the system that will make it easy for clients to access Home Affairs services.

We hope it works!