Tag Archive for: Immigration South Africa

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has bemoaned red tape and a ministerial revolving door that make it difficult to push through policy changes.

Gigaba, who himself has been public enterprises minister, home affairs minister and finance minister, before moving back to the home affairs portfolio, told a Black Business Council (BBC) roundtable in Sandton on Friday: “The biggest problem the ANC needs to address is that a vision can’t be carried by an individual but needs to be carried by an institution. The vision must be sustainable even if the individuals aren’t sustainable.”

In references to the various cabinet reshuffles in the past few years, he said: “We don’t even know whether we’re still going to be here to carry out these visions.”

While the Department of Home Affairs had ambitious plans to make the department completely paperless, to review critical skills work permits and to manage SA’s borders, it was difficult to make changes, he said.

“The immigration act couldn’t deal with a number of challenges, we need a new policy framework,” he said.

“Red tape makes it difficult for decisions to move speedily. To get something approved takes over a year. Things that need to move quickly, take forever.”

Critical skills

One of the problems that needed to be addressed was that students from other countries who study scarce skills in SA are then lost to the workforce because they struggle to get documentation allowing them to stay.

“The manner in which the last white paper was drafted, didn’t allow us to attract critical skills. Students who studied critical skills here would leave and we would lose those skills,” said Gigaba.

Changes that are in the works would allow students to skip certain stages to get permanent residence immediately, he said.

A new white paper on immigration was passed in 2017 but implementation will take the next two years.

It is intended to make criteria for immigration clearer, and make it easier to apply and submit documentation.

Criteria for permanent residents to acquire citizenship will also be made clearer.

It also aims to create a clearer distinction between the citizenship process and the refugee regime, and to create a more durable refugee system.

“We are also looking at introducing long-term visas for low-skilled migrants from the Southern African Development Community region,” Gigaba said.

“It will … provide them with documentation and ensure they are integrated into society.”

Gigaba said economic migrants abused the asylum-seeker system instead of seeking regularization.


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Sources: Sunita Menon via BusinessDay [1]. Image sources: [1].

Refugees and asylum seekers say that the Home Affairs offices on the Foreshore in Cape Town are more chaotic than ever since security vanished at the facility.

It is not unusual for refugees to experience poor service and mistreatment and to queue from 5am, but in the past week they say things have become even worse.

Asylum seekers come to renew their papers; refugees arrive to collect IDs, apply for passports and register children and relatives. But in the absence of security to show people which queue to join, people are left confused. There is also no one to maintain order in the queues or to prioritise mothers with babies and small children.

On Wednesday, GroundUp found no security at the main entrance. Usually security guards screen people on arrival. Inside the gate, there were two officials collecting documents. Outside the offices, officials would appear from time to time and collect documents handed to them over the perimeter fence or call out the names of people whose files they had. Some people said they did not know what queue they were standing in.

An Ethiopian man, who preferred not to be named, had flown from Johannesburg on Tuesday night and queued on Wednesday to extend his refugee status. He was told at 10am to return on Thursday. But Home Affairs told GroundUp: “The status renewal schedule is aligned to the schedule for available interpreters (Ethiopians are Wednesday). However if there is proof of travelling the applicants are

“The problem with this place is that no one listens … No one cares or gives a damn,” said the man. “You are not given a chance to raise your issues or explain your circumstances. Besides losing my seat [for the return flight] today, I have to pay for accommodation and it’s not guaranteed that if I come again tomorrow I will be served.” He also said he was missing work and would not be paid.

A number of parents told GroundUp their children were missing school. “My two children, who are doing grade four and eight, have missed three days of school,” a mother said. “It is crucial that they be in school because they are doing revision in preparation for mid-year examinations. These people just don’t care. When I showed him [the official] my paper, he just pushed it back without even looking at it.”

“For three days I didn’t work. Next week it’s month end. I need to pay school fees and rent. I hope today they will help me. I do have a refugee status that I renew every four years,” she said.

Pastor Belesi from the Democratic Republic of Congo said he had applied for his ID last year in December and was told he should follow up after three months. He said last week he forced himself inside the building. He was told the official who deals with IDs was away for the whole week and he should return next week.

“So today I am here since 6am, but I do not see myself getting any service,” said Belesi. “I am just waiting. Nobody is telling me anything. I don’t know what to do; should I stay, go or wait? I missed the 10am church meeting and the congregation is still waiting for me.”

Home Affairs spokesperson Thabo Mokgola responded to a number of queries but ignored GroundUp’s question about the security guard situation.


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Sources: Tariro Washinyira  via GroundUp [1]. Image source: [1].

Home Affairs is one of the most “hated” state entities amongst South Africans. For years, people have complained about long queues, lost documents and terrible service. For refugees seeking asylum, though, the issues are a lot more severe.

It has taken multiple Home Affairs ministers and seven years for the department to comply with a court order and reopen a Refugee Reception Office (RRO) in Port Elizabeth.

At the same time, Home Affairs remains in breach of a separate court order to re-open the Cape Town RRO.

The department has now opened the Port Elizabeth office after constant requests and queries from the DA-governed Nelson Mandela Bay metro, as well as NGOs.

DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs Haniff Hoosen says that the lack of action from Minister Malusi Gigaba and Home Affairs in Cape Town is an indictment on his leadership.

NGOs in the Mother City are currently urging the court to appoint a Special Master to oversee Gigaba’s compliance with the order.

The DA says incidents like this raise concerns around illegal immigration.

“The inefficiency of Home Affairs negatively affects asylum seekers who seek to regularise their stay in South Africa. The Department’s inability to process asylum applications could fuel illegal immigration as it will leave many refugees undocumented,” Hoosen said.

Last month, Gigaba gave the public an update on the department’s goals for the smart ID card. By 2023, they had planned to have everyone moved over from the previous ID books.

While South Africans were recently caught out by a fake post claiming that all green barcoded ID books will be expiring in 2018, the department does have plans to phase them out slowly over time.

With more South Africans flooding Home Affairs offices in an attempt to get their ID card, Gigaba also urged citizens to “not expect miracles” when visiting.


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Sources: Nic Andersen via The South African [1]. Image sources: [1].

Home Affairs must work faster to clarify the status of displaced children, says Centre for Child Law director Ann Skelton.

More than half the world’s refugees are children, according to the United Nations.

This is believed to be the highest proportion of child to adult refugees on record since World War Two.

It’s unclear how many child refugees there are in South Africa, but in late 2017, an estimated 280,000 refugees and asylum seekers were living in the country.

Skelton says Home Affairs needs to accelerate its processes.


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Sources: eNCA [1]. Image sources: [1].