Chaos and dysfunction at Cape Town Home Affairs Office indicative of a failing immigration system

Please find attached an Afrikaans and English soundbite by the DA Team One South Africa Spokesperson on Immigration, Jacques Julius MP.

“The DA has repeatedly said that the failing ANC is forcing people into undocumented status. The ANC government is leaving people in a burdensome and stressful position of uncertainty. This situation could have and should have been avoided”.


Left: Jacques Julius MP outside the Office of the Department of Home Affairs in Cape Town; Right: Jacques Julius MP, Terry Xabendlini (Immigration Coordinator Western Cape), Thandi Mati (Acting Office Manager for the Cape Town Office), Bongiwe Sakawuli (District Manager in charge of the Cape Metro), Almien van den Berg (Western Cape Coordinator) and Yusuf Simons (Provincial Manager)

This was the finding of the DA Team One south Africa Spokesperson on Immigration, Jacques Julius, after his visit to the office of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in Cape Town today.

“Today I engaged with clients, staff and management about the challenges that they face in the provision of critical services to citizens and foreign nationals. The office management were very cooperative. They told us about the lack of resources and lack of capacity at their disposal – particularly pertaining to the immigration services” says Julius.

The Cape Town DHA office is currently critically under-capacitated to deliver efficient and effective immigration services. The Western Cape only has 48 immigration officers, with Cape Town only having 14.

The office also does not have enough vehicles to transport those who are in the country illegally to the Lindela Repatriation Centre in Gauteng. This means people are often stranded.

According to Julius “the immigration management at the office highlighted that there continues to be repeated instances of illegal entrants being detained in Cape Town”.

This Home Affairs Office in Cape Town is frequently in the news concerning offline systems to the frustration of clients who often begin queuing well before 7 am.

The office management confirmed that the issues with the IT system stem from the Department’s poor Sita connectivity IT system. The admitted that the office would be much more efficient if it had its own IT connection.

“These challenges are indicative of an immigration system that is tethering on the brink of collapse” says Julius.

  • Please click here for a video of Jacques Julius talking with Debonita Jacobs who just received her passport about her experience at the Home Affairs Office in Cape Town.
  • Please click here and here to download the pictures.

Beitbridge border inspection confirms DHA inefficiency contributes to illegal immigration

This statement follows our oversight inspection of the Beitbridge Border post in Musina by DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, Haniff Hoosen MP, DA Limpopo Provincial Leader, Jacques Smalle MPL, and DA Limpopo Spokesperson on Safety and Security, Katlego Suzan Phala MPL.

Please find attached an English soundbite by Mr Hoosen, Afrikaans by Mr Smalle and in Sepedi by Ms Phala. Pictures can be found here, here, and here.

Today, the DA conducted an oversight inspection of the Beitbridge Border post in Musina following reports of extremely long queues and increasing incidences of vehicle, explosives and cigarette smuggling.

From our inspection it was clear that the level of service by staff is severely compromised due to a lack of resources, the complete breakdown of technology and the outdated computer software systems. For example, there are supposed to be 16 computers available and functioning to process people entering or leaving the border. However, only two computers are currently working.

The fact that there are only two computers available to process the high number of people who cross the border everyday confirms that Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, is completely out of touch. Minister Gigaba’s “war on queues” is clearly a farce.

The DA also heard complaints from people at the border who must pay bribes of R200 if they want to skip the long lines, caused by a severe lack of working equipment and staff and in the absence of an effective queue management system

Limpopo residents living in Musina have complained that people from Zimbabwe are able to simply walk across the border undetected. This is an indictment on the both DHA and the ANC government whose inefficiencies in allocating adequate resources to our secure the borders.

The officials at Beitbridge cannot win this fight alone, despite their genuine dedication to their work. They need the support of the DHA and border control management to effectively control the flow of people at the border post and to and secure the border from illegal immigration. However, the fact remains that inefficiencies and corruption at the DHA is responsible for the rise in illegal immigration.

There are many problems currently facing the control of illegal immigration. That the why the DA have repeatedly called for the DHA to prioritise the following:

  • secure our borders and fix our fences, making it impossible for people to enter South Africa illegally;
  • make legal entry as easy as possible, with an emphasis on skilled workers; and
  • take stronger action against those who employ immigrants illegally.

A DA government would allocate proper resources to ensure the efficient processing of all people and goods entering the country, as well as the effective policing of trafficking and smuggling across our borders. This would go a long way to keep South Africa safe and to cutting down on illegal immigration, trafficking and smuggling.

E-visas a victory for tourism and job creation

The DA’s campaign calling for the introduction of electronic visas to make it easier for tourists to come to South Africa has finally paid off. According to a reply to DA parliamentary question, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) confirmed that the first phase of the e-visa system will be piloted by the 31st of March 2019.
The reply indicated that the rollout of phase one of the e-visa system will be at a foreign mission, embassy or local DHA office yet to be determined.
The pilot phase will initially cover temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas, applications for waivers, applicant notifications and biometric details.
The DA has submitted several motions in Parliament calling for the introduction of e-visas, their benefits and the tourism industry’s support for their introduction. Despite its clear merits, the DHA was initially strongly opposed to the idea.
Electronic visas will boost the tourism industry by cutting turnaround times for the issuing of travel documentation while ensuring the information of applicants is secure.
Most importantly, improved tourist arrivals will facilitate more job growth in the industry while guaranteeing job security for 1,4 million South Africans already working in the tourism industry.
South Africa’s tourism industry is still recovering from the disastrous visa regulation regime and superfluous unabridged birth certificate requirement implemented by Minister Malusi Gigaba in 2015. According to the South Africa Tourism Service Association, these regulations resulted in an estimated R7,5 billion loss to the tourism economy and decrease of close to 600 000 tourists.
Since he has been parachuted back to the DHA, the DA hopes that Gigaba will not once more prove to be a stumbling block for growth in the tourism sector by standing in the way of the e-visa system.
The financial cost of introducing these measures will be much lower than the economic cost of scaring off tourists, trade and investment.
The Minister of Tourism, Derrek Hanekom, must not bury his head in the sand like he did in 2015 when the disastrous visa regulation were introduced. The success of his tenure will depend on his commitment towards the success of the e-visa system.
The DA will ensure that both the DHA and Tourism remain focused on implementing an electronic visa regime that is in line with international best practice and capable of growing our tourism sector.

Minister Dlodlo must immediately resolve dire inefficiencies at Home Affairs

In a reply to a DA Parliamentary question, Home Affairs Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, revealed that at least 344 547 foreign nationals failed to leave South Africa before or on the date their visas were set to expire.
The reply also revealed that more than 15 million people entered the country during 2016. Thousands of them are seeking to find refuge in our country. However, without proper checks and controls, the government will not have an accurate picture of how many foreign nationals stay within our borders illegally.
If this is the case, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will not be able to identify undocumented immigrants, and will ultimately fail to process those individuals who are eligible for a permit.
While the DHA have an Inspectorate Unit tasked with tracing persons who remain in the country illegally, the DA is concerned that the Unit might be under-resourced.
For years the DA has consistently supported greater investment in immigration services and this Parliamentary reply is exactly what the DA has been warning for a long time.
Given the scale and potential ramp in numbers, this reply is an indictment of the DHA’s deeply rooted inefficiencies to carry out its mandate which is to ensure that immigration officers at the border post execute their directive efficiently.
The DA is seriously concerned that if this is what happens in a single year, it must mean that over time, millions of people have entered the country illegally.
The DA will submit more questions to ascertain the staffing and budget of this unit as an under-resourced unit will not be able to trace 340 000 people each year.
Minister Dlodlo must show political will and re-assure the public that she will immediately resolve this unacceptable state of affairs.

Gupta Hijack of Home Affairs: Major Kobese must appear before committee

The latest revelations in the media relating to the #Guptaleaks email saga alleging that Ashu Chawla, COO of the Gupta-controlled Sahara Computers, used his connections at the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to secure preferential treatment on the processing of visas for Gupta friends and relatives in India is a further example of the undue influence that the Guptas and their lieutenants enjoyed.
Leaked Gupta-emails reveal that Mr Chawla used his contact in the DHA, Major Kobese, a Director of the foreign office coordination in the Department, to expedite various visa requests which could otherwise have taken time to be issued, had the normal processes been followed. In certain instances, the email trail shows Mr Chawla making demands for visas to be issued in the same day.
Given the allegations of undue influence, the DA will be writing to the Chair of the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee, Lemias Mashile, to ask that he calls Major Kobese to come and account for his actions. In allowing undue influence from private interests to influence his professional conduct, Mr Kobese may have violated the code of conduct for Public Servants which require that employees serve the public in an unbiased and impartial manner in order to create confidence in the Public Service.
The latest revelations are yet another example of the undue influence that the Gupta family was permitted, via their close relationship with the President, to exert over government departments.
The actions of Mr Chawla constitute undue interference in the administrative affairs of the DHA. Using contacts in the DHA to arrange or expedite visa processing, if done in an unlawful manner, could constitute the offence of corruption under the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act. The officials that assisted in this regard may additionally be guilty of offences in terms of section 49(5) of the Immigration Act.
The National Prosecuting Authority cannot continue to turn a blind eye to such brazen violations of the law by the Guptas and their associates. Confidence in the government’s ability to combat corruption must be restored as a matter of urgency, and the infractions of Ashu Chawla and Major Kobese should be a viewed with the seriousness they deserve.
The DA remains committed to ensuring that our state institutions are liberated from the toxic influence of the Guptas and their associates.