June 2004 - Click on the country title above the headlines for the entire article.
Human Trafficking stretches across SADC Region
Southern Africa: conference on human trafficking
SADC members to benefit from free trade area by 2008
Africa's legislators promise to promote refugee protection
Return of 39,000 people from DRC
UN to repatriate Angolan refugees from DR Congo
First convoy of Angolan refugees from Zambia
West African immigrants seek asylum
Refugee repatriation from Zambia
Citizen shelter illegal foreigners
Deported Guineans complain of ill treatment
Forced expulsions result in DRC backlash
Immigration authorities combat border jumping
Technical committee analyses border
Immigration boss denies targeting Zimbabweans
Botswana deports 26,000 Zimbabwean
Stop harbouring illegal immigrants, says MP
Working conditions blamed for nurses exodus
DR Congo hosts more than 400,000 refugees
Agoa brings investment - and sweatshops
South Africa Business in Mozambique
Exiles return from Botswana
Government apologizes to asylum seekers for delays
Namibia's white farmers face uncertain future
Tourism Statistics questioned
Cross-Border police co-operation success
Expatriates may be caught in the Namibian tax net
Reversing the medical brain drain
Concerns about Immigration Amendment Bill
Home affairs launches internship programme
Act aims to erase my legacy, says Buthelezi
UNHCR warns on SA's refugee backlog
Immigration revamp on the way
Buthelezi "follies" erased in fresh immigration bill
Buthelezi criticizes draft immigration Amendment Bill
UK slated for stealing doctors
Cape Town heaven for some, but hell for others
Foreigners not to blame for property prices
Stop pandering to foreigners
Foreign ownership plan misguided, say agents
New Immigration Bill streamlines foreign recruitment
KwaZakhele residents reach agreement
Mbeki backs Didiza on foreign ownership review
Dual passport use to be curbed
Cape Town's new immigrants
Hospital to cut surgery as Nurses quit
Mbeki backs land restrictions
Priest arrested for marriage scam
Six held in two separate drug busts
Clampdown on immigration specialists
Four-year old girls target for sex trafficking
Long-term solution to end violence in Rutensburg
Trafficking flourishes in SA
South African a human trafficking hub
South Africa regional centre for human trafficking
Disgraced SA doctor expelled from Canada
Mozambicans in Limpopo Province
Police crack fraudulent marriage ring
Aids-stricken nurse inspires miners to seek treatment
Land Minister considers curb on foreign ownership
Why I fled from home to South Africa
Human trafficking growing in SA
Anger and despair as gold mine dies
Talks over foreigners owning land in SA
UN body urges SA to take care of refugees
DRC Minister find safe haven in SA
South Africa to hold forum on human trafficking
Cops bust travel document ring
Consulate comments on clashes involving Mozambicans
Initiative to fight human trafficking
SA citizens may be part of UK visa scam
SA victims of UK visa scam face expulsion
Refugees play cat and mouse game with police
Home Affairs will not probe fake visas
Fake visas put South Africans in UK
Students face mass deportation
SA refugees under spotlight
SA hit by misuse of refugee status
False passports gang busted
Arrest in London over SA visa scam
Nine in court over Freedom Park violence
Mozambican refugees in South Africa
Home Affairs set for turnaround
New twist in North West conflicts
North West government shocked at xenophobic meeting
Foreigners arrested in drug bust
Integration of Mozambican refugees a success
Expats create new publishing market
Home Affairs to improve service delivery
Immigration regulations to be finalized
Planned crackdown on illegal immigrants
Rustenburgers agree on steps to prevent ethnic clashes
Home affairs a leader in corruption, says minister
Government clips immigration body's wings
Mozambique speaks out on clashes
Thirty five appear in Rustenburg court
We're not criminals, protest Nigerians
Gulf states lure South African workers
Professionals flocking to the Gulf states
Informal settlement violence: MEC slams xenophobia
Rustenburg squatter camp calm after clashes
Immigration Act could be passed in two months
All roads lead to Gauteng for tourists
Cape stays top as tourism numbers rise again
Renewed clashes in Rustenburg
Shameful truth about SA's treatment of refugees
Home Affairs prioritises customers
Home Affairs spends R500m on hi-tech
Smart passport on way
Two appear in court over ethnic clashes
Nurses exodus prison clinics
Defence forces arrest 138 illegal immigrants
Manzini vendors complain of unfair competition from Chinese
20 Tanzanians arrested in Zambia
Tanzania deploys soldiers at border
Zambia, Cape Town top tourism spots
Refugees at Mwange want more security officers
Illegal immigrants arrested
UNHCR resumes repatriation of Angolan refugees from Zambia
Arrested without documentation
Prohibited immigrant deported
Poor conditions behind nurses, Teachers Exodus
Monitor foreign investors urges parliamentary committee
Congolese refugees welcome in Zambia
Mau Mau faces UK deportation
UK probes immigration scam
In pursuit of the diaspora dollar: commentary
Zimbabweans abroad invest million
400,000 tourists visit Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe's migrants in neighbouring countries
Zimbabwen exiles denounce Mugabe's banker
Refugees opt for Zimbabwe
MDC supporters disrupt Midrand meeting
RBZ's forex drive commendable
Reserve Bank Governor heads for SA
Zimbabwe pleads for exiles' cash
Zimbabwe and Mozambique set to scrap visas
Zimbabwe's central banker in UK
Government prepares for Mawere's extradition
Marriages of convenience rife
Zimbabwe seeks funds from UK
Diaspora dollar initiative confounds critics
Zimbabwe women warned against marriage to foreigners
Government taps into remittances to ease forex shortages
Harare bank boss to urge exiles to give generously
Zimbabwe plans massive land nationalization
University scouts for lecturers abroad
Concern as cross-border traders turn to anti-retrovirals
Central Bank team opposed by Zimbabweans in US
Tapping into the diaspora for foreign exchange
Zimbabwean students graduate at Fort Hare
Nigerian deported despite Zimbabwean family
Zimbabweans in diaspora urged to invest
Mawere challenges revoke of citizenship
Commentary on the Citizenship Law
Agoa brings investment - and sweatshops (Sapa-AP, 05/06) - Under the harsh glare of fluorescent lights, hundreds of women bend over sewing machines and ironing boards amid piles of brightly coloured cloth. Almost 25 000 T-shirts roll off the Shining Century production line each day, destined for store shelves at the Gap and Old Navy outlets in America. The rapid growth of factories like these has made this tiny mountain Kingdom of Lesotho a poster child for a three-and-a-half-year-old US trade law aimed at encouraging economic development in Africa by dropping tariffs on many products exported to America. The African Growth and Opportunity Act, known as Agoa, has given Lesotho a competitive edge over textile manufacturing countries elsewhere in the world, like Taiwan and India, helping it lure investment and create jobs. As business and political leaders debate how to encourage growth on the troubled continent at a World Economic Forum summit in nearby Mozambique, Lesotho is quietly counting its successes. Since Agoa came into effect in October 2000, more than 35 000 new textile jobs have been created in Lesotho, one of the world's poorest countries. Though home fewer than two million people, the country is Africa's eighth-largest exporter to the, United States and produced 31 % of the textiles exported to America under the act last year. But those jobs come at a price: hard work for little pay, rapid urbanisation and the attendant growth of slums, prostitution, crime and Aids. Key provisions of Agoa expire in September, and the US Congress is currently debating whether to renew them. In Lesotho, while everyone from manufacturers government to trade unions say they want the textile boom to continue, there is growing concern about the costs of industrialisation. "If Agoa is extended, it will create more jobs. If not, the companies will cut and run predicted Shaw Lebakae, deputy secretary-general of the Lesotho Clothing and All Workers Union, one of two textile unions. "We want the factories to stay, but we want them to pay a living wage and to uphold good labour practices." Mphonyane Motseki, 23, spends her days cutting fabric for American-bound T-shirt and her nights in a tiny, one room house at the back of a yard that reeks of raw sewage. Almost half her monthly salary of about US$100 is sent to help her parents and siblings in a village in Lesotho's mountains. At the end of the month, after long hours on the factory floor, there is little left over for even the smallest of luxuries. "It's not good at all," she said, as she walked home. "But all people want that job because there is nothing else." Foreign companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the country, and the two main industrial areas in the capital, Maseru, are booming. But most of the new textile workers are like Motseki - poor, young women who continue to live in abject poverty. The country's two unions call the factories sweatshops. US officials say the jobs are a necessary first step in the country's development. In Lesotho - as in America, Asia and Europe - they say textile work will create new wealth and eventually help pull the country up the economic ladder. "What Agoa has done for Lesotho is to open a door," said Robert Loftis, US ambassador to Lesotho. "The thing about Agoa is that it's not an aid programme, it a trade programme. It's helping to bring them into the international trade system.
South Africa Business in Mozambique (Irinnews.org, 02/06) - South African businesses in Mozambique continue to see high returns on their investments, but locals worry that foreign companies are crowding them out while not creating sustainable jobs. According to a recent survey by the South Africa Institute for International Affairs (SAIIA) Mozambique enjoys some 49 percent of South African foreign direct investment, the lion's share on the continent. More than 262 South African projects have been registered by Mozambique's Investment Promotion Centre since its establishment in 1985, resulting in an accumulated investment value of US $1.33 billion by the end of 2003. South African investors controlled three of the four sugar estates, three of Mozambique's four breweries, all the soft drink bottling plants and large cereal mills, and most tourism facilities in the country, the report observed. However, South African investment in Mozambique had not necessarily led to sustainable employment opportunities in the impoverished country. The Mozal aluminum smelter project created 5,033 temporary positions, of which 70 percent were held by Mozambicans during the construction and expansion phases. After completion of both phases, the full staff complement was now about 800 staff members." More than 300 Mozambicans worked on the construction of the Sasol [gas] pipeline, generating wages in excess of US $5 million. However, when the pipeline has been laid, its full staff requirement will shrink to under 200," said the report. On the other hand, South African investment in two sugar estates and their mills created 3,034 permanent jobs, as well as seasonal employment for 5,398 workers. Researchers noted that agriculture remained the largest employer and recommended the need for the Mozambican government to attract more investment into this critical area of economic activity. About 80 percent of Mozambicans are involved in subsistence farming. The most significant investment failure - not only by South Africans - was that foreign companies had not adequately transferred skills or built links with local businesses. "The superior technology, business knowledge and (relative) financial strength of South African companies in the Mozambican market have also contributed to their domination of local industry. Because of their strong presence in the local economy, South Africans have been singled out as responsible for the crowding out of local business," SAIIA commented. The introduction of South African products, combined with the development and expansion of local distribution networks, had led to a more consistent supply of goods, greater price stability and higher consumer awareness in Mozambique. The impact of South African investment on economic policy, industrialisation, transfer of technology and the regulatory framework had generally been benevolent and positive. "In many instances it has set new standards in labour and business best practice. It has also led to the diversification and growth of the country's revenue base," the report noted. But the sizeable number of South African businesses operating in Mozambique did not imply that the country offered a "trouble-free, uncomplicated business environment". The successful implementation of mega-projects such as the Mozal aluminum smelter and the Sasol pipeline had boosted business confidence in Mozambique, but the survey found that the two key impediments to business growth were ineffective bureaucracy and corruption. As an example of some of the difficulties South African investors face, the report highlighted the unexpected withdrawal in 2001 of Rand Air, a South African air compressor and generator hire company, on grounds of the high level of corruption and red tape. Poor infrastructure, smuggling and theft were also among the concerns raised by South African investors. Overall, foreign businesses were in favour of extensive efforts by the authorities to curry favour with international donors. The international community has responded positively to Mozambique's economic reforms and its move towards decentralisation after the end of the civil war in 1992. Almost all the South African investors interviewed indicated that they would maintain or expand their operations in Mozambique in the near future. They also took a fairly optimistic view of the economic future of Mozambique, although the experiences of smaller investors diverged from those of bigger ones, who are far more insulated from the regulatory difficulties and bureaucratic hurdles which face small investors.
Exiles return from Botswana (New Era, 28/06)- Two thousand four hundred Namibians who ran to Botswana in the aftermath of the Caprivi unrest have come back to Namibia under an UN-supervised repatriation. Over 2 000 Namibians have since 1998 been housed at the remote Dukwe Refugee Camp in Botswana after they claimed they were being persecuted. The Namibian government denied the charges. Mikka Asino, spokesman at the Ministry of Home Affairs last Friday said initially 1 300 Namibians returned voluntarily before being followed by another group of 1 100 returnees consisting of women and children. The two groups returned following a tripartite agreement that was signed by Namibia, Botswana and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UN-HCR), an accord that granted free passage to those wishing to return to their motherland. Officials from UNHCR in Windhoek and Pretoria were not immediately available for comment since last Friday. Asino said Namibians who still remain at Dukwe should come back to Namibia so that they can lead "productive" lives. The Home Affairs official said the Namibian government does not have any quarrel with those who escaped to Botswana. "They should come back and lead productive lives," he said, adding those wishing to return should contact UNHCR.
Government apologizes to asylum seekers for delays (Namibian, 23/06)- Government has apologised to asylum seekers in Namibia for the delay in processing their applications for refugee status. At the same time, however, it issued a stern warning to those who resorted to what it described as "unruly behaviour" to voice dissatisfaction about their treatment in their host country. In direct response to claims by the Association for the Defence of Refugee Rights (ADR) that Government was violating their rights by allegedly denying them refugee status, the Home Affairs Commissioner for Refugees Elizabeth Negumbo said on Monday that the group, consisting mainly of DRC nationals, were "misguided". "These asylum seekers maintain that they are justified to call our Government all sorts of names and even went to the extent insulting our leadership, including the leadership of UNHCR, under the guise of demanding their basic human rights as asylum seekers," Negumbo said at Osire on the occasion of World Refugee Day. Three placard-waving members of the ADR were arrested as they broke through the crowd as Negumbo began addressing refugees. Negumbo stood firm as the crowd surged forward, causing momentary mayhem as the Police moved swiftly to clamp down on the instigators of the protest. Later, nine others were also detained for alleged disturbance of the peace. "This is our day. If we don't demonstrate today, then when?" ADR leader MacGoddins Lushimba told journalists. The Refugee Commissioner maintained that Government had remained steadfast in its commitment to giving the basic needs and rights of refugees all the attention it demanded. "It appears they only know their basic needs and rights, at the same time deliberately ignoring their obligations towards Namibia to respect the local laws of the host country and to refrain from unruly behaviour which might disturb peace and public order," said Negumbo. She cited a lack of manpower and logistical pitfalls for having prolonged the process of awarding refugee status to asylum seekers and denied that Government had deliberately put the exercise on hold last year. "This group of asylum seekers are misguided asylum seekers who, out of ignorance and-or frustration, try to mislead the genuine asylum seekers and some refugees within the camp," Negumbo said. She said the Namibia Refugee Committee would give serious attention to unprocessed applications when it next sits on July 8.
Namibia's white farmers face uncertain future (Mail&Guardian, 23/06)- Namibia's white farmers are increasingly concerned about their future after President Sam Nujoma's government began targeting a second group of farms for expropriation under its land reform programme. A second batch of letters was sent to white farmers last week, on the heels of a first bunch in early May, notifying farm owners to set a price for the sale of their land to the State. "My neighbour received a notice three days ago," said a farmer who asked not to be named. "Four more farmers in my area have also received a letter signed by Lands Minister Pohamba." "We don't know what to do if we also receive such a notice. Our children are teenagers, maybe we should emigrate to Australia," said the farmer, who inherited his farm from his grandfather. Fearing the worst, the farmer said he was cutting back on expenses and only purchasing goods that are essential to run his farm. A lands ministry official declined to comment on the new notices. "I cannot comment on that and I cannot disclose any figures at this stage", the official said. Land is a sensitive issue in southern Africa, where, as in other part of Africa, most of the arable land is in the hands of a small group of white farmers. In Namibia, they number around 3 800.The example of Zimbabwe, where thousands of white-owned farms were seized and handed over to new black farmers, was hailed in some quarters as a justified solution to the decades-old conundrum. Since 1996, the Namibian government has bought 130 farms under its "willing seller, willing buyer" principle and resettled about 40 000 people on them. In addition, 700 white-owned commercial farms were bought on the open market by black Namibians since independence through affirmative action loans from the agricultural bank. The government in the former German colony, which came under South African rule until independence in 1990, maintains that the expropriations will be carried out in strict accordance with its laws. But the assurances appear to have fallen on deaf ears. "I am aware of the uncertainty prevailing among the farmers. Already companies selling agricultural equipment are feeling the pinch, because farmers hold back with investments to improve their infrastructure," Jan de Wet, outgoing president of the largest commercial farmers' organisation told about 60 white farmers last week. De Wet's organisation, the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), has won an extension of the deadline given to the first group of farmers to respond to the notices, to June 30."We are for a fair expropriation process, but the government has not even made known the criteria to expropriate in the public interest," says Sigi Eimbeck, co-founder of a new group called the Namibia Farmers' Support Initiative created earlier this year. The planned farm expropriations are thought to be having a ripple effect on foreign investment. German businessman Wilfried Pabst said that he had frozen investment in Namibia after running into problems in Zimbabwe. Pabst complained of being harassed by Zimbabwean local officials who called him and his staff "white pigs". "Now President Sam Nujoma is using similar socialist vocabulary like Robert Mugabe and farm expropriations are to happen in Namibia. "I don't need another Zimbabwe in my life," said Pabst.
Tourism Statistics questioned (Namibia Economist, 18/06) - Statistics indicate that a total of 747 201 “tourists” visited Namibia in 2002. These statistics, according to the hospitality industry and related sectors in tourism, do not reflect the real number of tourists to Namibia. The hospitality industry argues that the country does not have sufficient beds in hotels and lodges to accommodate that number of visitors. Also, many of those described as tourists, by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), are people who have come to visit relatives or are South Africans who, during fishing season, travel to the coast in their own vehicles and catch as much fish as they can and leave without having spent any cent here. They come with everything from tents to food supplies. The Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) is aware that the tourism and hospitality industry is unconvinced about the annual statistics regarding tourists to Namibia. The manager of quality assurance at NTB Digu //Naobeb explained that the board has suggested to the ministry that, besides the total number of travelers to Namibia, the statistics be broken down into components to indicate the reasons why the person came to Namibia. The components could indicate how many people came to visit relatives, how many people came for holiday and how many people came for business. The statistics for 2002 show that 56,8% of the 747 201 came to Namibia for “holiday” purposes; that is, more than 400 000 travelers to Namibia of which about 83% are European visitors. The tourism and hospitality industries question the credibility of the statistics on the basis that it is likely that one person could be counted more than once. A person could, for example, fly in via Hosea Kutako Airport, take a guided tour to Botswana, return to Namibia, visit the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and return to Windhoek to fly home again. This person will have entered Namibia three times during his visit to southern Africa and have been counted three times as a tourist. The main argument between the tourism and hospitality industry on one side and the MET and NTB on the other, is in the definition of a tourist. The hospitality industry defines a tourist as a visitor to Namibia who stays at a bed-and-breakfast, hotel or any other hospitality establishment and engages in tourism related activities. They insist that business people from anywhere and family visitors from Angola and South Africa are not regarded as tourists. The ministry and NTB, on the other hand, prescribe to the definition of the World Tourism Organisation, which defines a tourist as “any person visiting a country other than his/her usual country of residence for at least one night, but not exceeding a period of 12 months.”
Cross-Border police co-operation success (The Namibian, 09/06) - The Police chief of the Karas Region has applauded his South African counterparts for a job well done after they staged two successful operations in which 21 people were arrested. Speaking during the regional Joint Technical Committee on Defence and Security meeting at Rosh Pinah at the end of last week, Deputy Commissioner Joseph Anghuwo said they had arrested 21 South Africans between January and March of whom 17 were illegal immigrants. The four others were held for the possession of dagga. The joint operation with South Africa also resulted in the arrest of three suspects in the armed robbery case at the Daberas Mine, 40 km from Oranjemund last year November, Anghuwo said. He said Police from Namibia and South Africa confiscated 77 fishing nets between Komsberg and Stolszenfels between January and March. A further 65 nets, two tubes, and seven long-lines were confiscated at Norotsama Lodge, 15 km west of Aussenkehr, at the same time. Anghuwo said the convention was a platform for identifying the training needs for enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of police officers on both sides of the border. The Director of the South African Police for the Gordonia Area, Kolie Matthys, said at the meeting that illegal fishing and border crossing along the Orange River would be monitored and addressed through continued joint operations and policing. He said cross-border crime prevention would be stepped up, especially since South Africa was preparing to host the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
Expatriates may be caught in the Namibian tax net (Namibian Economist 04/06) - Expatriates working in Namibian may be caught in the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) net in Namibia if the income that they earn during their period of employment in Namibia is deemed to be of a Namibian source. Expatriates are normally highly skilled, specialised individuals in the higher income group and proper tax planning and advice is therefore important. Tax planning will ensure that the after-tax income earned by expats is according to their expectation and furthermore the Namibian employers will not be caught off-guard by employee costs that are much higher than budgeted for. Expatriates are individuals from foreign countries who are in Namibia on secondment for a period, the intention being that they will be repatriated to their country of residence after expiry of their secondment period. In Namibia expatriates are commonly found in the fishing and mining industries. Namibia levies tax on the source basis on income that is received by a person within or deemed to be within Namibia. This differs from a residence based worldwide taxation system that is operated in European countries and the United States. In terms of the Namibian Constitution and public international law, Namibian law will apply to the territory of Namibia and within 24 nautical miles (43,80 km) measured from the ebb line. The reference to the coastal area is particularly significant for expats employed in the fishing industry. The real source of employment income will generally be the location where the duties and the obligations in terms of the employment contract are executed. If the location where the income is earned is in Namibia, as defined, then this income will be subject to Namibian tax. It is however not uncommon for expatriate employees to render their services partly within and partly outside Namibia i.e. crew on Namibian fishing vessels who catch outside Namibian waters but also renders services on shore. Fortunately Namibia has entered into Double Tax Agreements (DTA’s) with 10 other countries to date. The DTA’s will prevent an individual from being taxed on the same income in both the country of residence and the country where he is rendering his services. Expatriates working in Namibia must therefore ascertain whether their country of origin has entered into a DTA with Namibia. If there is no DTA between the two countries an expat may be liable for tax in both countries, as a resident of his country of origin, if that country levies tax on residence base, and on the income earned in Namibia based on the source of the income. Employers may also be trapped in the tax net when expatriates are employed on a “net of tax” basis. In this case the employer is responsible to pay the monthly PAYE in addition to the monthly salary of the expat. Employers will have to perform a gross-up calculation and by adding the tax that is being paid as PAYE to the net salary paid to the employee may find that the PAYE on the total amount is more than the PAYE per original calculation. A multi-step gross-up calculation is necessary to achieve the desired result but the eventual cost to the employer may be much more than initially budgeted for. Employers who currently employ expats or intend to do so in future must ensure that they have budgeted for the total cost of employment and expats who are employed or who intend to render future services in Namibia must identify the tax traps to ensure that they are not caught. "This article is provided by PricewaterhouseCoopers for information only, and does not constitute the provision of professional advice of any kind. The information provided herein should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a professional adviser who has been provided with all the pertinent facts relevant to your particular situation. No responsibility for loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of any material in this publication can be accepted by the author, copyright owner or publisher."
Reversing the medical brain drain (Inter Press Service, 30/06) - The flight of nurses and doctors from South Africa - and other African states - has long been a source of concern for the governments of these countries. And, the advent of AIDS has sharpened fears about the effects of this migration. IPS was not able to get comment on the matter from South Africa's Department of Health. However, statistics from the British Medical Journal indicate that in the 2001/2002 period, 2,114 nurses left South Africa for Britain, (up from 599 in 1998/1999). The picture for 2001/2002 was less dramatic, but still worrying, for states elsewhere on the continent. About 470 nurses left Zimbabwe, while 432 left Nigeria. Ghana lost 195 nurses to Britain, Zambia 183 and Kenya 155. Health workers who leave for greener pastures in Europe can net substantially larger salaries than they earn in their home countries. African governments, pointing to the host of social needs that clamour for attention, could claim that they don't have the money to compete with these salaries. Many are also following programmes set by the International Monetary Fund and other financial institutions that set limits on public expenditure. All of this begs the question as to whether donor agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) should start supplementing the salaries of health workers to keep them in South Africa, and other African countries. This might involve a marked departure from the areas of responsibility that these groups have traditionally set out for themselves. Yet, it seems clear that the 'brain drain' of medical personnel is as much a problem for NGOs which work to contain AIDS and other diseases, as it is for governments. No matter how low the prices of anti-retrovirals go, the benefits of these reductions risk being undermined if there aren't sufficient, trained health workers to administer the drugs. "If donors want to achieve a small part of the target they set, they will need health workers to ensure all health care interventions are implemented," says Lucy Gilson, a researcher at the Centre for Health Policy at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa's commercial centre, Johannesburg. IPS sent numerous requests for comment on this matter to a variety of donor agencies and NGOs, including the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Health Organisation and Oxfam. However, none of the groups appeared willing to put their views on the record. Part of this reluctance may stem from the fact that a well-meaning effort to supplement state salaries could get bogged down in politicking. How would a donor agency be able to justify addressing staff shortages in a country where arms purchases were continuing - or where endemic corruption was visibly depleting the financial resources that might otherwise be spent on health matters? Certain commentators have also indicated that a debate about this type of intervention is fruitless, because the effectiveness of donor agencies depends, in part, on the fact that they are clearly seen not to meddle in the internal affairs of the states that they assist. However, Gilson does not think agencies and NGOs will "aid and abet" poor governance by boosting the salaries of doctors and nurses: "If they made direct payments to individuals, the governance problem would be theirs, not that of the government." The flip side of this argument is that donor funds for salaries might not be sustainable over the long term. Damaria Senne, Communications Manager of the Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa (CAFSA) told IPS that as yet, there had been no formal discussion with regard to donor funding specifically for the salaries of health workers. "But I have heard comments at conferences and meetings where people and organisations have complained bitterly of donors' unwillingness to fund administration and salary costs (for aid projects)." (CAFSA is a non-profit organisation that provides financial expertise and other assistance to NGOs.) Senne said that funders sometimes capped the allocations for project administration and salaries at 20 percent of the total aid package, leaving these projects understaffed. Poor salaries are not the only reason why nurses seek employment abroad, however, as Thembi Mngomezulu, Chief Negotiator for the Democratic Nurses Organisation of South Africa, points out. In an interview with IPS, she said some wanted the adventure of working in a foreign country. Others left because of poor or insecure working conditions, bad management, a lack of training opportunities - and the sense that nursing offered little in the way of career advancement over the long term. Mngomezulu believes that donor funding could be used to provide occasional incentives for nurses - rather than a permanent addition to their salaries. "Salaries need to be sustained once introduced, therefore foreign funding will pose a special challenge in this regard," she told IPS. "However, special allowances can be introduced to attract certain skills to underserved areas." Gilson agrees that the dissatisfaction of health workers extends far beyond the matter of what is in their pay packets. "It is about giving people a sense of calling and purpose, making them feel valued and acknowledging their hard work. These are all important - though to different degrees for different people," she says. This complicates the matter of hiking up salaries to retain staff. "Higher salaries probably would be a factor, but what level of increase is required we just don't know," notes Gilson. She adds that increases which put South Africa and other African states on a par with European countries are also unnecessary. This is because the cost of living in Africa is generally lower than that in European countries, "so you should be able to buy more with your salary here than there."
Concerns about Immigration Amendment Bill (Business Day, 30/06) - Finality does not always bring clarity, particularly when it comes to the new Immigration Amendment Bill. It establishes some short-term clarity but government intends to undertake a policy review on immigration which will result in a "fresh" Immigration Act. Contrary to the demands of business and the desperate need in the economy for skills, the bill makes it more difficult for foreigners to work in SA. Its critics say it reintroduces elements of the old Aliens Control Act, requiring all foreigners entering SA to work, even for a short time, to obtain a work permit . Barry Gilder, director-general of the home affairs department, says there is no intention to revert to the Aliens Control Act. "We may have used things in the bill that are similar ," he concedes. Another major amendment removes the "privatisation" of the department's work permit certification system. Chartered accountants used to perform an oversight role at a price. Gilder says this is onerous and impractical and the department will evaluate application criteria , "whether they be money, investments, or whatever". He says the intention of the bill is to fix a number of drafting problems which arose because the Immigration Act was passed in a hurry, in order to meet a deadline imposed by a Constitutional Court ruling. It also tries to clear up confusion surrounding the deferring of "power" to the department, and ensuring that the regulation making process is "simpler and more straightforward". There are changes to the role and composition of the Immigration Control Board, to emphasize its advisory role . The bill also clarifies on what issues immigration regulations can be made. Another criticism is that the bill gives more power to the home affairs minister and director- general, but this is dismissed by Gilder as a "superficial, non-legal reading of the bill". He says the act does not make it clear who can exercise the powers given to the department. Vick Esselaar, spokesman for Business Unity SA on migration, says that the new amendments give greater powers to the director-general to operate "in his discretion". "We don't think this is a desirable process. It has caused a retraction of certain human rights, particularly in regard to the legal issues. The appeal and review processes have been eliminated," says Esselaar. Gilder says the minister and director-general can review any decision taken . "This gives our clients an opportunity to have a decision reviewed," he says. Esselaar contends that greater government control and reduced involvement by the board is undesirable "in an admittedly corrupt department". "The board previously had an oversight role. It could comment on implementation by the department. This is now removed ," he says. Former home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi says the bill indicates "an autocratic attitude which goes beyond the field of migration control". With the stroke of a pen it undermined the entire reform of migration control during his tenure, Buthelezi said. Market force dynamics influencing the issuing of work permits will now be replaced by the discretion of the department and the role of the labour department will also be eliminated, Buthelezi argues. He says each work permit will have to go through a "tortuous and lengthy process". Buthelezi believes the bill brings back most of the features of the repealed Aliens Control Act. The most troubling aspect of the bill, Buthelezi says, is that it abolishes the process of regulation making based on public participation . By the end of August, the deadline set by President Thabo Mbeki for the new bill to be passed by Parliament and the regulations to be ready for promulgation, SA will have a new immigration system in place. Then the hard work starts again on the next phase.
Home affairs launches internship programme (SABC News, 30/06) - The department of home affairs has launched an internship programme aimed at giving unemployed graduates work experience. Malusi Gigaba, the deputy minister of home affairs, says the programme will contribute to government's drive to address unemployment among youth. Gigaba says it will also assist the department in increasing its capacity for effective service delivery. The new programme launched today by Gigaba is expected to increase the department of home affairs' service delivery and at the same time give graduates valuable work experience. He says 350 students will be enrolled as interns. Every year South Africa produces thousands of university and technikon graduates, but only a small percentage are able to find employment. The former president of the ANC youth league, says this will contribute to government's attempts to address youth unemployment. Although the number of interns seems to be a drop in the ocean, Gigaba believes that if other government department can do the same, problems of unemployment can be reduced. Tertiary students have welcomed the initiative. They say the programme, though late in coming, will help them get much needed experience. Application forms for the internship programme are available at home affairs offices throughout the country and other government buildings.
Act aims to erase my legacy, says Buthelezi (The Star, 30/06) - The government's proposed changes to the Immigration Act bodes ill for foreign investment and is a regression into centralism. This was the view expressed yesterday by former home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi. The Inkatha Freedom Party leader, recently dropped as minister after 10 years in the cabinet, said the proposed changes would mark the "triumph of autocracy, protectionism and parochialism over an objective system of migration control". He charged that the new bill is aimed at erasing the legacy of the Buthelezi administration. "It is a bad bill, obviously not aimed at facilitating South Africa's economic exchanges with the rest of the world," he said. But Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Mike Ramogoma disagreed. "We beg to differ. The current process of amending the legislation recognises that the act, as originally drafted, was the result of political bargaining, instead of being based on a rational need for an immigration law that attracts skills and encourages foreign direct investment and tourism." Ramogoma said there was a need for an immigration policy that managed to "properly balance immigration and emigration". Buthelezi, however, said the bill would be "extremely detrimental to the capacity of South Africa to acquire foreign skills". Buthelezi, who clashed repeatedly with the ANC over immigration, said the proposed amendments showed "an autocratic attitude which goes beyond the field of migration control". "With one stroke of the pen, this bill would be undermining the entire reform of migration control, which was brought about during my tenure as minister of home affairs through five years of public consultation," he said. Moreover, Buthelezi said, the Immigration Amendment Bill brought back most of the features of the repealed Aliens Control Act. "It eliminates the role of chartered accountants which would perform a broad range of certifications and assessments, which (now) are to be performed by the departments of Home Affairs and Labour, with great uncertainty, delays and cost." It also centralised power in the hands of the director-general, thereby preventing the legal decentralisation of the department into regions with the power of issuing the full range of permits, he said. "The bill eliminates all the limits and constraints on the power of the minister ... who will again be allowed to let people in and out as he or she sees fit without referring to the Immigration Advisory Board (lAB)." The most concerning feature of the bill was that it abolished the process of regulation-making based on necessary public participation as well as notice and comments, "without any possibility of anyone resorting to a court of law to challenge whether such decisions are arbitrary or capricious", Buthelezi said.
UNHCR warns on SA's refugee backlog (Business Day, 29/06) - About 84000 African refugees and asylum seekers out of nearly 110000 in SA are still awaiting recognition of their status, a backlog the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says has serious implications. These refugees cannot be issued with identity documents that will enable them to open bank accounts and find formal employment in the country, among other things. The temporary identity document issued to refugees is not gazetted in terms of the Identity Documents Act and is therefore not recognised, particularly in the business community. The backlog in the processing of these applications has been accumulating since 1994 due to staff shortages in the home affairs department. Bemma Donkoh, regional representative of the UNHCR, says the organisation hopes to run a workshop with parliamentarians on the issue to detail the plight of refugees as an aspect of forced migration, as well as international policies and standards governing the protection of refugees. Home affairs portfolio committee chairman Patrick Chauke said that the committee's role would be to encourage the department to create a system soon so that the refugees were recorded and "taken on board". Chauke said that the department's turnaround strategy, which was presented to the committee earlier, provided for the employment of more staff to improve its service. Some of these new immigration officers would be dedicated to assisting with the refugee issue, and "will go a long way towards reducing the backlog". Donkoh said the UNHCR was glad to see that there was commitment from government in the form of an increased budget for the department and plans to recruit more people to boost the capacity of the refugee section and open new offices at South African border entry points. She said this was a difficult task, not only from an administrative point of view but also in the decision-making process. The civil conflicts in Africa, particularly in Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Angola and Somalia, have displaced hundreds of thousands of people far beyond their borders. SA has actively shared the humanitarian burden since 1994 by allowing people fleeing from armed conflict into the country and giving them access to asylum.
Immigration revamp on the way (Business Day, 29/06) - Cape Town Big changes to the Immigration Act have been tabled in Parliament, which will see the home affairs minister and his director-general given far wider powers in determining immigration policy in SA. The effect of the amendments will be to shift the exercise of power in implementing immigration law from the Immigration Advisory Board to the minister and director-general. In the past the board, which plays an advisory role on immigration policy, had the right to review all decisions of the department and the director-general. This falls away in terms of the Immigration Amendment Bill. The draft bill, approved by the cabinet last week, is the culmination of a protracted battle between former home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi and President Thabo Mbeki, that was also fought out in the Cape High Court. The court ruled shortly before the April elections that Buthelezi's controversial immigration regulations be withdrawn. A memorandum accompanying the bill says the amendments seek to address "a number of defects" in the original act caused by its hurried passage through Parliament last year, as well as concerns raised by the department resulting from its experience in implementing the act during the past year. A further amendment removes the need for the minister to solicit public nominations for "civil society representatives" on the Immigration Advisory Board and gives the minister the right to name the chairman of the board. A new section dealing "comprehensively" with immigration regulations removes the requirement for public comment and for the minister to respond in footnotes to the regulations. The bill lists the matters the minister may regulate, to address concerns raised by the state law advisers that several existing regulations are "ultra vires" (beyond legal authority). Another section dealing with adjudication and review procedures is also repealed as the "provisions thereof are cumbersome and makes effective immigration control unachievable". To bring the legislation into line with other legislation, powers and functions are attributed to the director-general and not the department. The amendment also empowers the director-general to withdraw any temporary residence permits "under certain conditions". Two new sections dealing with visas and transit visas are proposed and stipulate under which circumstances a foreigner is required to have a visa or transit visa. "This will make the process of determining which countries are visa-exempt simpler and enable proper consultation by the minister with other government stakeholders," says the memorandum. On issuing corporate work permits for certain industries, the minister now has the power to designate those industries that qualify, which previously rested with the labour minister. The bill also does away with the need for the director-general to report annually to the minister and inform the board on the measures and proposals aimed at increasing "the efficacy, efficiency and cost- effectiveness of the department, as it is felt that this cannot be done through this act". The legislation seeks to remove the provision that prevented recording the entry to and departure from the republic of citizens. It proposes that all businesses offering accommodation keep a register of all foreign guests. It also states explicitly that the renewal of a visitor's permit "shall be for a further period of three months". "This (the three-month period) will curb the tendency by some foreigners to apply for the extension of a visitor's permit many times over", says the memorandum.
Buthelezi "follies" erased in fresh immigration bill ( Cape Times, 29/06) - New Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is set to table major amendments to the Immigration Act that eliminate many of the controversial provisions her predecessor sought to implement. The Immigration Amendment Bill was certified by the state law adviser on Friday and is to be tabled this week so the national assembly's home affairs committee may begin processing it during the winter recess. The drafting of the original amendments took four years, pitting then-minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, leader of the IFP, against his ANC counterparts in cabinet and in parliament. The chairman of the home affairs committee, Patrick Chauke (ANC), confirmed yesterday that his committee would sit during the recess so the amendments could be approved in August. President Thabo Mbeki has set a deadline of three months for the amendments to become law. The changes are a temporary measure, however, as the country's immigration laws are to be rewritten. Home affairs officials said the proposed provisions would go a long way towards attracting sorely needed skills and investment to the country. Several provisions the ANC considers Buthelezi's follies have been diluted or deleted. The Immigration Advisory Board's powers would be curbed, reducing it to a purely advisory body. It would no longer have powers to review the decisions of the department or the director-general. It would also include representatives of the national intelligence co-ordinating committee and department of justice and constitutional development. Moreover, the minister would no longer be expected to solicit public nominations for the civil society representatives on the board. Another proposed provision that brought Buthelezi into conflict with the ANC, including Johnny de Lange, then-chairman of the national assembly justice committee - the establishment of immigration courts - has been deleted. Any reference to immigration courts has been removed, ensuring that any reference in the legislation to courts means the magistrate's courts alone. The controversial Section seven of the Immigration Act, which dealt with the making of regulations and was the subject of a court case, has been removed. This removes the requirement for public comments and for the minister to respond to each of these in footnotes to the regulations, according to a memorandum to the bill. The bill also provides for simpler application and appeal procedures and removes the controversial provisions relating to chartered accountants. Once the measure becomes law, illegal foreigners would be allowed to be detained at police stations and other places not under the control and administration of the home affairs department. The director-general would not be able to determine the places at which illegal foreigners could be held. The memorandum accompanying the bill says a new clause dealing with visas and transit visas is intended to simplify the process of determining which countries are exempted from visa requirements. This aspect was a bone of contention between Buthelezi and ANC members of the cabinet earlier this year. President Thabo Mbeki went to court over controversial regulations gazetted by Buthelezi, who was accused of acting in bad faith. Buthelezi was opposed to a proposal by Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma that citizens of several developing countries would be allowed to enter South Africa without visas. The court case was widely regarded as the death knell for Buthelezi's place in the cabinet. He was not returned to Mbeki's cabinet after the April election.
Buthelezi criticizes draft immigration Amendment Bill ( SABC News, 29/06) - The draft Immigration Amendment Bill recently published by the home affairs department "shows an autocratic attitude which goes beyond the field of migration control", Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the IFP leader, said today. Buthelezi warned that it would be extremely detrimental to the capacity of South Africa for acquiring foreign skills. "Market forces dynamics currently supporting the issuance of work permits will be replaced by the discretion of the department," he said. He added: "It makes work permits necessary for a broad range of business activities, which now are accommodated in terms of a visitor's permit without the need for labour certification or other 'needs test'. "All the guarantees limiting the role and input of the Department of Labour will be eliminated so that each work permit will need to go through a tortuous and lengthy process. "The most concerning feature of the Bill is that it abolishes the process of regulation-making based on necessary public participation and notice and comments. "Buthelezi said he understood that "even though there is no urgency, the intention is to push this Bill through by the end of August".
UK slated for stealing doctors (Daily Dispatch, 29/06) - Britain's state health service has a "shameful record of exploitation" in relying on doctors trained in other countries, the chairperson of the British Medical Association said yesterday. James Johnson, a vascular surgeon, said it was wrong that the National Health Service remained dependent on doctors from countries such as South Africa and the Philippines, who sorely needed every doctor they could get. "Throughout the history of the NHS, we have relied on other countries to fill our NHS manpower gaps - both for nurses and doctors," Johnson told a doctors' conference at Llandudno in Wales. "As the fourth largest economy in the world we are still doing so, still taking doctors away from countries like South Africa and nurses from the Philippines who need them more than we do. "It's a shameful record of exploitation. "Surely after over half a century of the NHS we should be producing enough doctors to look after our patients. "Johnson praised the work of doctors from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the NHS over the last 40 years, saying they had received "scant acknowledgement" or "suffered outright discrimination".
Cape Town heaven for some, but hell for others (This Day, 29/06) - It is a typical day in the middle of Cape town: two brothers from the Ivory Coast sit in a patch of sun in the public park adjoining parliament while a Dutch couple take photographs of a squirrel climbing an oak tree. Since apartheid ended in 1994 Europeans and North Americans have been visiting Cape Town as tourists and in recent years have been buying up some of the city's most valuable properties. But Cape Town is also becoming home to African immigrants, who come to this city at the tip of the continent to find work and start a new life. "We came to Cape Town on a ship ten days ago, but we are still looking for jobs. Cape Town is a beautiful place and we have heard that there is a lot of money to be made here," one migrant said. Unlike Europeans and North Americans, Africans Immigrants face an uncertain future in Cape Town, which has a population of roughly three million, 51 percent of whom are coloured, 30 percent black and 18 percent white. Anglican Archbishop Njonkulu Ndungane says that poor African immigrants are changing the face of Cape Town, established in 1652 by the Dutch administrator Jan van Riebeeck. "Often these people are not even recognised by the government social welfare departments, they do not qualify for social grants and are not cared for by non-governmental organizations and churches," Ndungane said last week. Many of the immigrants will end up in one of the poverty-stricken shantytowns surrounding Cape Town. the shantytowns exploded in size when migrants labourers came to Cape Town from the neighbouring poverty stricken Eastern Cape when apartheid ended in 1994. the site of the thousand of tin and wood shacks backing on to the highway to Cape Town international airport is often the only contact most visitors will have wityh poverty in the city. Last year British musician Dave Stewart told journalists of his horror drive into Cape Town. "People ask me if I've been to Cape Town.. that it's really beautiful." "And people are saying it is much better than before. And I think, 'Christ, what was it like before?' The extremities are really scary... it's like a vision of hell," he said. Yet less than 20 minutes' drive from the shacks, life is completely different. Visitors take a leisurely trip in a cable car up the flat-topped Table Mountain to enjoy the view of the Table bay and Robben Island when Nelson Mandela spent a lifetime in prison for fighting against apartheid, or they spend the day at a vineyard or lazing on one of Cape town's beaches. Tourist numbers to the city have rocketed in recent years. Last year more than 1.5 million people travelled to the city, according to Cape Tourism. The boom in tourists has led to a surge in new restaurants and hotels to cater for visitors and the city's wealthy population. the movie industry has also boomed, with large-scale Hollywood productions using the city as a stand in location for California or Europe. The Cape Film Commission says foreign film productions spend more than R2 billion in Cape Town last year. Estate agents are raking in profits from wealthy foreigners looking to pick up properties in the city at what to them are bargain prices. The real estate company Pam Golding says it sold more than a billion dollars worth of houses mainly to Europeans and North Americans last year, a significant portion of which was from sales in Cape Town. Investors have recognized the city's potential too. Recently a group of Irish businessmen announced details of a property venture, in which they plan to invest R500 million to turn the city centre into a European-style "old city', with luxury apartments, cobbled streets and pavement cafes. Most of Cape Town's properties, restaurants and tourism facilities are out of reach for the majority of the city's black population. It is something that Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool has promised to change. Rasool said last week that he wants low-cost homes built in suburbs with medium and high cost houses to make the city more racially representative. "We need to push forward and start integrating spaces racially by building mixed-use housing," he said. "We need social inclusion and this means the way in which we use the space in our municipalities." But immigrants like the Ivorian brothers can be sure they will not be getting any official benefits from the city.
Foreigners not to blame for property prices (This Day, 28/06) - Foreign ownership of South African property is to blame for the country's spiralling property prices. Instead, it is currently one of the best ways on increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) into South African, while also providing direct benefits to the country's poor, a property expert says. Patrick O'Shea, chief executive officer of Engel and Volkers Western Cape, an international real estate company, says less than 8 percent of property purchases are made up by foreigners. He says many of these "foreigners" are, in fact, "expatriates returning to South Africa". He says foreign investment should be encouraged, while government and the banking sector should simultaneously develop incentives to increase first-time home ownership. This would assist previously disadvantaged members of the community to share in the wealth creating process. O'Shea says as the country's post 1994 middle class emerges and formerly disadvantaged groups buy property in historically white areas, demand is far exceeding supply, forcing prices upwards. Property prices increased by an average of 22.7 percent over the past year. this demand, coupled with the favorable economic climate created by government's well-managed monetary and fiscal policies, is one of the major reasons for the huge escalation in property prices in the below R1 million category. "Foreign purchases generally do not buy in the broad, widely affordable market pegged at below R1 million. In fact, typical foreign buyer activity ranges from R3 Million upwards and is mostly focused on coastal and golfing estates," he says. O'Shea urges government to reconsider plans to limit foreign property ownership buyers bring FDI cash into South Africa as they are obliged by law to provide 50 per cent of the capital of their purchases here." Foreign buyers also employ architects, builders, domestic workers and other lower skilled workers. "This direct impact on the local economy could be even better FDI option than the much sought after large corporate FDI investments which might not have such a broad-based direct impact on the poor," he says. By considering restrictions on foreign property ownership in South Africa, government could be cutting off the hand that is helping to increase wealth - and job creation in the economy.
Stop pandering to foreigners (City Press, 27/06) - There was time in history when quoting Karl Mark enhanced one's revolutionary image. And because that era is image. And because that is now history - I quote Marx at my own peril. Marx, the great critic of capitalism, once wrote: 'It is not the consciousness of man that determines his social being but, on the contrary, his social being that determines consciousness." I understood, and still do, this to mean that the environment shapes our thinking and not the other way round. In other words, the environmental pressures that we expose ourselves to, influence the way we think. In the run up to the general election, President Thabo Mbeki said he had seen the face of poverty. He said direct communication with the ordinary people had opened his eyes to the extent of poverty in the country. Those were encouraging words because he offered hope to the poor. Hope that tomorrow will be better than yesterday. One would have expected that after increasing its majority, Mbeki's ANC would use its mandate its programme to address the legacy of apartheid, especially the economic imbalance. This expectation was further fuelled by Mbeki's State of the Nation address when he spoke about the urgency of promoting black economic empowerment. But, following a meeting with international investors, the government has begun to speak with a forked tongue. First came reports that the government intended to relax BEE conditions for international investors. Later the government issued a statement to clarify the perception that multinationals would be exempted from empowerment conditions, saying that there would be no blanket exemption for multinationals. The statement then went further to say that each multinational would be judged on its merits. Predictably, the relaxation of the BEE commitment was welcomed by big business. They now know that despite public pronouncements, the government will accommodate those who, resisting the requirement to take on a black equity partner, threaten to pull their investment out of the country. This could be dangerous. Local business people might argue that they are expected to compete with unhindered multinationals who invest in the country, while they are expected to abide by legislation that exempts multinationals. If left, unchecked, BEE will be still-born. But why is the government pussyfooting around BEE? The governments has been bombarded by opinions from the captains of industry. They have lobbied against a clear-cut policy for BEE, arguing that it is a major business risk. On the face of it, the argument cannot be dismissed lightly. They argue that an investor who has to choose between a country which has no conditions, and South African which wants him or her to provide equity to blacks - will not find us an attractive investment destination. Perhaps instead of focusing on black millionaires, government should promote job creation, which will benefit more people and reduce the high levels of poverty, the arguments goes. The government, being continually exposed to views propagated by big business, is likely to bend over backwards to accommodate potential investors. the concerns of the poor, those who have almost nothing to show but their ability to vote, are pushed aside. They are not an immediate threat in the broader scheme of things. Unlike those investors whose withdrawal could have a negative effect on the market, the poor having only a limited capacity to rock the boat. This honeymoon period, government selectively ministers to business concerns while ignoring the legitimate expectations of the poor, has only a limited life-span. If the multinationals were sufficiently far-sighted, they would realize that their long term success is linked to the creation of a strong black middle class. If they accepted this, they would desist from their myopic approach of trying to sabotage BEE - there is a viable alternative to BEE. It is not simply a nice-to-have feature, it is a business imperative. One only has to look up north to appreciate the disaster that was created by a revolution that failed to produce the desired economic benefits for the majority - long after liberation. Given the fact that the voice of the left, speaking on behalf of the poor, has little power, government policy is being hijacked by the rich, some of whom are foreigners. Currently there is a huge row about suggestions that foreign ownership of land be limited. It was a call by government for debate on the matter that generated the furore. The dissenters are implying that government should not even debate the issue, for this in itself would threaten foreign investment, the life support of South Africa. It is time for the left to lobby government.
Foreign ownership plan misguided, say agents (Cape Argus, 27/06) - Government plans to hold talks on limiting foreign ownership of real estate in South Africa to combat spiraling land and property prices are misguided, say property industry spokesmen. Ian Slot, Western Cape regional and national committee chairperson of Seeff Properties, described the move as xenophobia. "Xenophobia is xenophobia, irrespective of whether it surfaces in informal settlements or in Camps Bay. Where are the empirical studies or evidence to prove that foreign ownership is in fact pushing up prices? Even if this were the case, where are the studies showing that this is bad for the economy, or for the country as a whole? "If the land and agricultural minister Thoko Didiza is quoted correctly through her spokesperson, then she is inviting us to participate in talks about a potential solution to the problem - but she hasn't established that there is in fact a problem 'Xenophobia is xenophobia, irrespective of whether it surfaces in informal settlements or in Camps Bay' . It is like deciding what medicine to prescribe without bothering to find out if anybody is sick," said Slot. "If government wants to get involved in real estate it need not concern itself with that end of the market - they should address the concerns of those who want to get into the market for the first time. We reiterate our call for a subsidy for first-time buyers, using the money that has poured in from the transfer duty, VAT and capital gains tax that is being generated by this active property market. "Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding property group, said the timing of the statement was "unfortunate", coming soon after Irish investors had announced that they were pouring millions of rands into the Cape Town CBD. "The claim by the spokesperson for the minister that foreigners are responsible for price increases and making property unaffordable for South Africans is highly questionable," said Dr Golding. He said less than 1% of all properties sold in South Africa were bought by foreigners and that they accounted for about 10% of sales by Pam Golding Properties, which has a significant share of the foreign buyer market. "The other side of the story is that investment by foreigners is an overwhelmingly positive phenomenon, and President Mbeki has said he is trying to encourage foreign direct investment," Golding said. He said property purchases by foreigners also led to indirect investment in the form of spending on home improvements, renovations, restaurants and hotels, which helped to sustain jobs. "In addition, foreign buyers visit their home countries and become ambassadors for South Africa - the positives are huge. "Dr Golding said foreigners may help to drive up prices in certain areas, but that the property market was overwhelmingly driven by local sentiment. Bill Rawson, chairman of the Rawson Property Group, said complete unambiguous clarity on South Africa's attitude to foreign property ownership - and, indeed, general investment in South African assets by foreigners - was now absolutely essential following several months in which "the President has given one message, while certain of his cabinet ministers have given another". "Only those who have been overseas regularly," said Rawson, "will know just how damaging to investor confidence the kind of ambiguity that has prevailed recently can be. "There is a lurking fear in the minds of Europeans, Americans and others that, although South Africa undeniably has one of the most enlightened constitutions in the world and although we in theory respect land ownership and free market principles, in practice we might still go the route of Zimbabwe or, more recently, the route that Namibia is rumoured to be considering. "Investors have to be given a categorical assurance on these matters - even if this does result in South Africa's left wing being antagonized. "Rawson said talk of converting freehold to 99-year-old leases or of limiting foreign ownership in one way or another, almost as if it is a privilege to put one's money here, is not the message the market needs to hear. Tony Bales, joint managing director of Churchill Murray Properties, said estate agents may have to warn prospective foreign property buyers that government is considering passing a law to limit the foreign ownership of land. "The code of conduct for estate agents as scheduled in the Estate Agents Act 1976, section 4.1.1 states that agents have a duty to disclose to a prospective purchaser all facts within his or her personal knowledge and which are or could be material to the sale and or purchase of the property," says Bales. "The fact that government has announced that it is considering limiting foreign ownership means that agents need to disclose this knowledge which is hardly in the best interests of making a sale. "Didiza's spokesperson, Nana Zenani, said one suggestion was to introduce a system of 99-year leases for foreigners - but added that government had not yet considered whether to make the law retrospective for existing foreign title deed holders. Lawyers say such a law would not apply to foreign property owners with permanent residence status. They add that any attempt to deprive existing holders of freehold title deeds would clash with South Africa's constitutional law. The announcement has been greeted with dismay by all sections of the business community, with one political analyst saying that talking about South Africa's delicate land issue in this way looked like a case of "foot in mouth".
New Immigration Bill streamlines foreign recruitment (Sunday Independent, 27/06) - Draft immigration legislation aimed at boosting investment and attracting scarce skills through streamlining visa and immigration requirements has finally reached parliament. This heralds the end of a four-year political and legal battle over aspects of the urgently needed legislation and immigration regulations. The bill was certified and tabled late on Friday, just in time to ensure that it could be processed during the national assembly's winter recess that started this weekend. Law advisers to parliament and the government are hopeful this will enable the speedy finalisation of the legislation to meet the deadline of three months laid down by President Thabo Mbeki after a saga of delays and court challenges. The cabinet approved the Immigration Amendment Bill this week. Enver Daniels, the chief state law adviser, said the bill was "a marked improvement" over previous efforts. "It will facilitate attraction of investment and scarce skills," he said. The provisions of the bill are likely to please the business and investment communities, particularly because it will make it much simpler for them to attract skilled workers. It is understood to be the first of a two-stage process. Once the bill is finalised, plans are in the pipeline to embark on a total rewrite of immigration legislation because the language is regarded as too authoritarian. Among the improvements are simpler application and appeals processes. The draft legislation does away with onerous requirements - such as the one requiring would-be employment seekers to have their financial status verified by a chartered accountant. This would make it much easier for someone who wished to extend their work permit for a year. The proposed legislation also makes it much easier to obtain visitors' and transit visas, and makes provision for immediate and automatic appeal processes where the visas are rejected.
KwaZakhele residents reach agreement (SABC News, 27/06) - Displaced Tsonga residents of KwaZakhele squatter settlement in Rustenburg, who fled their homes after a fierce clash with Xhosas, may now return home. A government initiated mass meeting involving the two tribes has resolved to restore peace in the trouble torn informal settlement. The department of home affairs and the police are collaborating efforts for the reissuing of new IDs and travel documents to some 40 Tsonga families, which were destroyed when their properties were attacked. An assessment of further support that will be needed by the returning families is to be conducted during the week. Both Xhosa and Tsonga have welcomed the decision. Trouble at KwaZakhele was sparked by an alleged rape of a Xhosa girl by a Tsonga boy.
Mbeki backs Didiza on foreign ownership review (Business Day, 25/06) - President Thabo Mbeki rushed yesterday to the defence of Agriculture and Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza, who has been fiercely criticised for suggesting that the property rights of foreign investors in SA should be reviewed. Citing 99-year land-lease ownership limitations on foreigners in Canada and Switzerland, Mbeki told Parliament that restrictions in these countries had not scared away investors. Didiza raised the issue of foreign restrictions early this week, drawing angry responses from opposition parties and organised business. Mbeki took the debate further in his budget vote speech in Parliament on Wednesday, warning South Africans against "neoliberals" who espoused the sanctity of the market economy and property rights at the expense of the state. Yesterday he again attacked Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon for criticising Didiza on the land ownership issue, saying Leon was using "fear tactics" to scare off investors. Mbeki accused Leon of attempting to frighten people with false propositions to encourage opposition to the ruling party. "The minister of agriculture was correct to call for a national discussion on the issue of foreign land ownership. To stop this discussion, which will take place, Leon seeks to frighten the country with the notion that restrictions on foreign ownership are a red flag for foreign investment. "And yet many countries have such restrictions. These include Switzerland and Canada, to cite only two. We know of no reports that this has served as a red flag to the foreigners who have invested in these countries." "Quite why Switzerland and Canada can have such restrictions without frightening foreign investors, while similar restrictions in our country would produce an opposite response from foreign investors, is difficult to fathom," Mbeki said. SA's property prices climbed an average 24,3% in the year to last month, accelerating from 19,8% the previous year, spurred partly by foreign buying, particularly in coastal resort areas. Drawn by prices that are still relatively low by world standards, Europeans, Americans and some wealthy Africans have been snapping up seaside and houses in Cape Town, a major tourist destination. Among these are the family of Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Nguema, reported to have bought two luxury properties in upmarket Cape Town suburbs. Analysts say that prices are up across the country, while foreigners are buying only in higher-priced areas and are not responsible for pricing Low-income earners out of the market. Mbeki accused Leon of trying to obscure an understanding of SA's history in order to create space for "American conservatism". He said that Leon wanted an economic policy for the country that was about "a minimal budget deficit, lower taxation, a deregulated labour market, privatisation, enterprise zones, opportunity vouchers and such. "To get there, he believes that among other things he must convince us that the African majority in our country was not oppressed and exploited as Africans but as individuals and that the legacy of that impacts on this majority not as Africans but as individuals. "If this has any meaning, it constitutes a vain attempt to eradicate our history. "Accordingly, the Africans as a national group did not and do not exist. "What we had and have are merely individual Africans, who were oppressed as individuals and who suffer from the legacy of racism as individuals." This meant Africans had not gathered together to fight against oppression. All this was the "celebration of individualism" and an attempt to create a society in which "individuals shoulder their burdens and exercise their rights alone", Mbeki said, quoting British author and journalist Will Hutton. "I do not know what will happen to the honourable Leon when he wakes up one day and discovers that there are individual Africans who belong to the African national group, that there are individual workers who belong to the working class, and that there are individual capitalists who belong to the capitalist class, and that each of these has all along been combining to act together exactly because they shared common interests as racially defined groups, or for that matter (as) classes," he said
Dual passport use to be curbed (Business Day, 25/06) - Cape Town South Africans with dual nationality who use their second passport to enter or leave the country will be breaking the law in terms of the proposed South African Citizenship Amendment Bill. The bill will impose a fine or up to 12 months' imprisonment on such citizens who might also try to gain an advantage or to avoid a responsibility or duty by using their second passport. The bill will also remove a "frustrating" apartheid-era provision that allowed South African citizens to travel on passports of other countries while overseas. It means that letters of permission that have allowed them to do so fall away, and they will no longer apply for exemptions from Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. The National Council of Provinces' select committee on home affairs was told yesterday that the bill's provision to repeal a section of the South African Citizenship Act was necessary because the section clashed with the constitutional provision that "no citizen may be deprived of citizenship". Eugene Kritzinger, the home affairs department director of citizenship and travel documents, told the committee it was virtually impossible to police the use of foreign passports by citizens outside SA. Kritzinger said the system of letters of permission to make use of a foreign passport was introduced during the apartheid years because many countries refused entry to visitors with South African passports. Since 1994 this system had been reviewed, and an amendment to the legislation was passed in 1997 that allowed the minister to grant exemptions if there were "exceptional circumstances" to warrant the use of a passport from a second country. Kritzinger said that in 2003-04 there were 11500 exemptions granted, compared with more than 15000 the previous year. Scrapping this system would mean a loss of revenue of just more than R1m, but at the same time it would remove a "frustrating" aspect of the act. "Several complaints were received over the years that section 9 of the act was unconstitutional and also impractical as the use of a foreign passport by a dual citizen outside SA cannot be effectively policed," he said. Kritzinger said that it was important to pass the legislation "fairly urgently".
Cape Town's new immigrants (Mail&Guardian, 25/06) - It is a typical day in the middle of Cape Town: Two brothers from Côte d'Ivoire sit in a patch of sun in a garden while a Dutch couple take photographs of a squirrel climbing an oak tree. Since apartheid ended in 1994 Europeans and North Americans have been visiting Cape Town as tourists and in recent years have been buying up some of the city's most valuable properties. But Cape Town is also becoming home for African immigrants, who come to this city on the tip of the continent to find work and start a new life. "We came to Cape Town on a ship ten days ago, but we are still looking for jobs. Cape Town is a beautiful place and we have heard that there is a lot of money to be made here." But unlike Europeans and North Americans, African immigrants face an uncertain future in Cape Town, which has a population of roughly three million, 51% of whom are coloured or mixed race, 30% black and 18% white. Anglican Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane says that poor African immigrants are changing the face of Cape Town, established in 1652 by Jan Antony van Riebeeck, who was sent by the Dutch East India Company to establish a trading post on the shores of Table Bay. "Often these people are not even recognised by the government social welfare departments, they do not qualify for social grants and are not cared for by non-governmental organisations and churches," he said at church service this week. Many of the immigrants will more likely end up in one of the poverty-stricken shantytowns surrounding Cape Town. The shantytowns were set up by local migrant labourers who came to Cape Town from the neighbouring poverty stricken Eastern Cape province when apartheid ended to find work. The site of the thousands of tin and wood shacks backing onto the highway to Cape Town International Airport is often the only contact most visitors will have with poverty in the city. Last year British musician Dave Stewart told journalists of his horror drive into Cape Town. "People ask me if I've been to Cape Town... that it's really beautiful," he said. "And people are saying it is much better than before. And I think, 'Christ, what was it like before?' The extremities are really scary... it's like a vision of hell," he said. Yet less than 20 minutes drive from the shacks, life is completely different. Visitors take a leisurely trip in a cable car up the flat-topped Table Mountain to enjoy the view of Table Bay and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in prison for fighting against apartheid, or they spend the day at a vineyard or lazing on one of Cape Town's beaches. Tourist numbers to the city have rocketed in recent years. Last year more than 1,5 million people traveled to the city, according to the official Cape Tourism agency. The boom in tourists has led to a surge in new restaurants and hotels to cater for visitors and the city's wealthy population. The movie industry has also boomed, with large-scale Hollywood productions using the city as a stand in location for California or Europe. The Cape Film Commission says foreign film productions spent more than two billion rand ($316-million dollars or €260 million) in Cape Town last year. Estate agents are raking in profits from wealthy foreigners looking to invest in property in the city. The real estate company Pam Golding says it sold more than a billion dollars worth of houses mainly to Europeans and North Americans last year, a significant portion of which was from sales in Cape Town. Investors have recognised the city's potential too. Last week a group of Irish businessmen announced details of a property venture, in which they plan to invest R500-million to turn the city centre into a European-style "old city", with luxury apartments, cobbled streets and sidewalk cafes. Most of the Cape Town's properties, restaurants and tourism facilities are out of reach for the majority of the city's black population. It is a something that Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool has promised to change. Rasool said this week that he wants low-cost homes built in suburbs with medium and high cost houses to make the city more racially representative. "We need to push forward and start integrating spaces racially by building mixed-use housing," he said. "We need social inclusion -- and this means the way in which we use the space in our municipalities." But immigrants like the Ivorian brothers can be sure they will not be getting any benefits from the city.
Hospital to cut surgery as Nurses quit (Business Day, 25/06) - Groote Schuur Hospital is poised to slash the number of operations it performs due to a shortage of nurses, says hospital senior medical superintendent Dr Saadiq Kariem. About 36 patients a week could be affected by cuts to the operating list at the hospital, which is also one of SA's leading tertiary institutions. "The impact on patient care will be phenomenal," Kariem said. Patients are also likely to have longer waits for operations. The shortage has led to a relaxation of the public service and administration department's rules on hiring nurses who had taken voluntary severance packages, Kariem said. Usually nurses who take retirement packages cannot be rehired by the state, but for the past year Western Cape has been successfully applying to the department on a case-by-case basis to bring skilled nurses back into the system. Shortages are most severe among specialist nurses, such as those working in intensive care units and operating theatres. The province has 1638 vacant nursing posts, while Groote Schuur has 143 vacant nursing posts a vacancy rate of 9%. The nursing shortage is being felt in both private and public sectors as these professionals migrate to better paid jobs in countries like Saudi Arabia, the UK and more recently the US. Kariem said Groote Schuur had tried to alleviate its nursing shortages by using private sector nursing agencies, but these agencies were now also unable to meet the hospital's demand. "It's not that we don't have the money, we just can't find the nurses," said Kariem . Groote Schuur had even considered asking doctors and registrars to step in for specialist theatre nurses, he said, but the hospital had since decided against this for legal reasons.
Mbeki backs land restrictions (This Day, 25/06) - President Thabo Mbeki lent his authority yesterday to calls for restrictions on the ownership of land by foreigners. Mbeki told the national assembly that Thoko Didiza, land affairs and agriculture minister, was right to raise the issue and that a national discussion on foreign land ownership would take place. Didiza said a fortnight ago that high property prizes were making it difficult for South Africans to afford land in some areas and that the government was considering restricting foreigners to 99-year leases instead of freehold title. Mbeki took up the issue in response to remarks on Wednesday by the DA leader Tony Leon, who told parliament that these proposals were "a red flag to foreign investors." "Many countries have such restrictions," Mbeki said yesterday, including Switzerland and Canada to cite only two. "Quite why Switzerland and Canada an have such restrictions without frightening foreign investors, while similar restrictions in our own country would produce an opposite response, is difficult to fathom," he said to applause. But economists and estate agents questioned the logic behind the proposal, saying there was little evidence that foreign buyers were the cause of rising prices. John Loos, a senior economist at Absa, said residential property prices were driven almost entirely by domestic demand. "The signals coming from government are confusing. On the one hand they're saying we don't have enough foreign direct investment; on the other they're saying that in property we have too much." Mick Joyce, managing director of Pam Golding Properties in the Western Cape, said that data showed that less than 1 percent of property was sold to foreigners. "Even in the most desirable coastal game-farm areas, 90 percent of the appreciation is driven by locals," he said. Pam Golding, which specializes in property at the upper end of the price spectrum, sold about 10 percent, or R1 billion, of its R9,5 billion sales to foreigners last year. Joyce said he believed a debate on the subject need accurate data and should involve everyone involved in the issue. Patrick O'Shea, managing director of Engel and Volkers, said prices were being pushed up by increased demand from the black middle class, weak performance of other asset classes and rising building costs. Foreign buyers had little effect on the lower end of the market and other measures to improve affordability should be considered. Meanwhile, the DA has called for the financial intelligence centre to investigate the purchase of two properties in Cape Town by the son of President Teodore Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea. THISDAY reported yesterday that Nguema's likely heir was buying a R23,5 million bungalow in Clifton. A local radio station reported yesterday that the family had spent R26 million on another house in Bishopscourt, Cape Town. Raenette Taljaard of the DA said yesterday that the US was investigating allegations of money laundering by members of Nguema's government. "Given the US investigations ... it's entirely appropriate for the FIC to probe these property transactions," she said.
Priest arrested for marriage scam ( Sunday Times, 24/06) - A priest from Durban who is suspected of certifying fraudulent marriages of non-existent brides to Pakistani men. Two other suspects, believed to be the ringleaders of the syndicate that arranged the marriages, were arrested while trying to process marriage certificates at the Home Affairs offices in Pietermaritzburg. Several South African and Pakistani identity documents together with signed marriage certificates were seized.
Six held in two separate drug busts (This Day, 24/06) - Police intelligence have made a breakthrough in cracking two major drug trafficking syndicates, one of which is linked to a South American racket. Police arrested four Nigerians at Johannesburg International Airport yesterday. They were disembarking from a flight from Sao Paulo. The men, who were carrying false Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Gambian passports, had allegedly ingested pure cocaine to the value of R25 million. The bust came as a result of a six month under cover operation, in conjunction with police in Columbia, Brazil and Peru. Jackie Selebi, the national police commissioner, supervised the operation and flew to South America to cement co-operation with the authorities there. Police believe the investigation, known as Operation Cobra, was behind the spate of death threats last year against crime intelligence head Rayman Lalla. In another investigation police arrested two men on a farm at Ingogo near Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal and seize more than two tons of methaqualone powder - also with a street value of R25 million - used in the manufacture of Mandrax. Polcie also seized several thousand Mandrax tablets and about R40,000 in cash. One of the men is believed to be drug syndicate boss. the drug crackdown forms part of the investigations President Thabo Mbeki referred to in his May state of the nation speech when he vowed that the country's top 200 criminals would be arrested in the next few months.
Clampdown on immigration specialists (Business Day, 23/06) - SA has introduced stringent rules for immigration practitioners, making it the third country after Australia and the UK to regulate immigration law specialists. The regulations are in line with SA's new Immigration Act. The introduction of the rules followed repeated calls by the industry to act against unscrupulous consultants who were prejudicing clients, Julian Pokroy, chairman of the Immigration Law Specialist Committee of the Law Society of Northern Province s, said on Monday. Immigration practitioners assist immigrants with the legalities of entering SA. Pokroy said that about 108 practitioners had already passed the first immigration test written in February. More than 150 specialists were expected to be registered by end of the year under the new immigration laws, he said. Registered practitioners would have to meet a number of requirements to stay in business, he said. For example, a practitioner would need professional liability insurance cover of at least R500000 . A police clearance certificate of not older than six moths would have to be provided to the Association of Immigration Practitioners of SA. In terms of the new policy, applications for all forms of temporary residence and permanent permits would be processed only by lawyers, advocates and immigration practitioners. Attorneys and advocates are subject to their own rules of professional conduct under the auspices of the Law Society of SA and the General Council of the Bar respectively. Pokroy said the new regulations would deter consultants who had set up practices and presented themselves as specialists in immigration law, without being subject to any code of professional conduct. He said that in the run-up to the act being passed, the committee had proposed that immigration law should be reserved solely for lawyers. The new law would exempt attorneys and advocates from having to register as immigration practitioners, he said. "Other people (such as unregistered consultants) will have to register as immigration practitioners," Pokroy said. The second immigration law test was written on June 10 and the results would be made available shortly .
Four-year old girls target for sex trafficking (SABC News, 23/06) - South African children as young as four years old are being targeted for sex trafficking. This was revealed by Molo Songololo, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), at the conference Against Sex Trafficking in Benoni on Gauteng's East Rand today. International researchers, law enforcers and legal experts are delegates at the summit. Although sex trafficking is often associated with cross-border operations, a study by Molo Songololo has revealed that this crime is also occurring within the country's borders. A research by Molo Songololo indicates that children between the ages of four and 17 are being targeted for sex trafficking. The organisation's Debra Mobilyn says children from rural areas and those living on the Cape Flats are especially vulnerable. Research also indicates that women from Eastern Europe are being lured to the country as part of commercial surrogacy schemes. Lowesa Stuurman, an advocate from the South African Law Reform Commission, says although women may engage in these transactions willingly, they are often unaware of the full implications. This issue is one of many providing difficulty to be defined in the drafting of legislation around human trafficking. According to Stuurman, the absence of trafficking legislation also means that victims of this crime are being deported to their countries of origin without the necessary support. Delegates have also raised their concern about the lack of services available to victims of human trafficking in the country. Zodidi Tshotsho, a doctor from the department of social development, says requests for adequate funds for these services will be submitted to Parliament soon. This will form part of the department's Victim Empowerment Programme The conference draws to a close tomorrow with the drafting of an action plan on the way forward. Discussions over the past two days, however, have made it evident that legislation around human trafficking will be the first step towards fighting the crime.
Long-term solution to end violence in Rutensburg (BuaNews, 23/06) - The provincial government is to set up lasting solutions to ensure the end of "ethnic" violence that wreaked havoc at Zakhele and Freedom Park settlements near Rustenburg recently. North West MEC for Safety and Liaison Maureen Modiselle said this during her budget vote in the provincial legislature yesterday. The informal settlements had over the past month been subjected to "ethnic" tension between the Tsonga-speaking Mozambicans and Xhosa-speaking residents. The violence started after a teenager had allegedly raped a young Xhosa girl, leaving two people dead, shacks razed by fire and some property looted. Several people have since appeared in court on several charges. The MEC said her department had facilitated a multi-disciplinary study during 2001/02 to investigate the socio-economic factors contributing to conflicts and crime in areas surrounding the Rustenburg Platinum Mines. "A report compiled and produced by the Conflict Resolution Consortium recommended further actions towards the resolution of the conflicts," she explained. The project, Ms Modiselle said, had been successful because of a joint effort by the Rustenburg Municipality, Rustenburg Platinum Mines and the Royal Bafokeng administration. "The conclusion of this project is expected early July this year and will set concrete development plans for all informal settlements in Rustenburg," said Ms Modiselle. Ms Modiselle said the project's conclusion would help in improving the life conditions of the affected people while creating a good environment for crime prevention.
Trafficking flourishes in SA (Mail&Guardian, 23/06) - Trafficking in humans is the third most lucrative crime in South Africa next to drugs and weapons, a statement ahead of a conference said on Friday. At least 500 organised gangs are involved, and researchers have found that trafficking has brought children into prostitution and debt bondage. Mozambican women have been sold as wives and domestic labourers to mineworkers, babies are trafficked for adoption and people are trafficked for ritual multi killings. South Africa is also a destination country for women and children from Kenya, Latvia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Taiwan, Thailand, Romania, Russia and Zambia. It is a country of origin for Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union, said a statement from Shared Hope International, a non-governmental organisation. The most affected include: children from Lesotho where thousands of children have lost their caregivers to HIV/Aids, women and girls from Mozambique and Malawi. Thai, Chinese, and Eastern Europeans, South African children kidnapped or taken into gangs. "We are here to stand with the South African leadership by joining our purposes in fighting this global trade. It is absolutely necessary for governments [and NGOs] to develop a shared vision and capacity if we are going to put a stop to this modern form of slavery," said Linda Smith, founder of the War Against Trafficking Alliance. The alliance and South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will hold the "Next Steps to Path Breaking Strategies in the Global Fight Against Sex Trafficking in South Africa" conference, the fifth follow-up to a world summit held last February. In December the NPA formed a task team and so far 10 investigations are underway. The South African Law Commission is also circulating draft legislation on trafficking for consideration in 2004 and police formed an anti-trafficking team at the Johannesburg airport, said the NGO. The three-day conference will launch the agenda of the task team. It is expected to be launched by Justice Minister Bridgette Mabandla, Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka.
South African a human trafficking hub (Mail&Guardian, 23/06) - "I am young -- but up here is old," says an 11-year-old girl working as a prostitute in Cape Town, pointing to her head -- one of many images in hard-hitting footage on the sex industry, screened at the opening of a conference on human trafficking in South Africa on Tuesday. The three-day conference, "The Next Steps to Path Breaking Strategies in the Global Fight Against Sex Trafficking", is sponsored by a global coalition of non governmental organisations (NGOs) called the War Against Trafficking Alliance and the South African National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The gathering will help to compile the agenda of a national task team constituted to combat human trafficking in South Africa, and is the fifth follow-up of a world summit held in the United States last year. South Africa is a destination for women and children from Kenya, Latvia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Taiwan, Thailand, Romania and Zambia, said United States congresswoman Linda Smith, the founder of the global coalition, at the opening of the conference. Children are trafficked either for sexual exploitation or for labour. Smith, quoting last year's US state department figures, said there were 2 000 children in debt bondage in South Africa. According to Interpol, sex traffickers earn an estimated $19-billion annually. "It is difficult to put a figure to the value of trade in Southern Africa, as we have only just begun investigating it," said Jonathan Martens of the Geneva-based NGO, International Organisation for Migration. A pimp in Cape Town, South Africa's tourism capital, who supplies eight- to 11-year-olds to sex tourists mainly from the US, Britain and Japan, commented in the film that children are sometimes tied with barbed wire and told to perform sexual acts on adults. The footage was shot by the global coalition of NGOs. According to the South Africa-based child rights activist organisation, Molo Songololo, 25% of prostitutes in Cape Town are children. While the film alleged that child prostitution in Cape Town was run predominantly by a Nigerian syndicate, Smith said Russian, Bulgarian and Chinese crime groups were other major players in the human trafficking business in South Africa. The country's attractive First World conditions -- "clean water, good schools for their children" -- were luring trafficking traders to the country, said Smith. Senior state advocate Nolwandle Qaba of the NPA, who heads the national trafficking task team, said they had identified "six pillars of the South African counter-trafficking strategy": "information; capacity-building and development; victim support and integration; legislation and policy; monitoring and evaluation; and liaison and consultation". The new task team, chaired by the NPA, comprises the departments of home affairs, justice, social services and labour, the organised crime and border police units of the South African Police Service, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Molo Songololo and IOM. None of the countries in Southern Africa have domestic legislation outlawing human trafficking. Senior legal crime expert in UNODC's Southern Africa office, Uglijesa Zvekic, said the UN body would launch a regional project in September to enable members of the Southern African Development Community to implement the protocol of the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. The legal instrument, which was adopted by the General Assembly on November 15 2000 and came into force on December 25, 2003, provides the first internationally agreed definition of trafficking and requires countries to criminalise such activity. Through a series of workshops, Zvekic said, the project would "advise on drafting and revising relevant legislation; provide advice and assistance on establishing and strengthening anti trafficking offices and units; and train law enforcement offices, prosecutors and judges". UNODC also planned to set up a programme in Mozambique next year to prevent trafficking in human organs.
South Africa regional centre for human trafficking (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 23/06) - South Africa is the regional centre of an intricate trafficking network that recruits women and children from Mozambique, Angola, Malawi, Thailand, China, Eastern Europe and even as far afield as the East Asian city of Macau, according to the Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Trafficking in the region is conducted by four broad groups - organised crime, businesswomen, sex tourists and refugees, said IOM's Jonathan Martens in his presentation to a conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. The conference on 'The Next Steps to Path Breaking Strategies in the Global Fight Against Sex Trafficking', sponsored by a global coalition of NGOs called the War Against Trafficking Alliance and the South African National Prosecuting Authority, ends on Thursday. About 1,000 Mozambicans are smuggled into South Africa every year, earning traffickers approximately one million rand (about US $159,223) annually, according to Martens. Trafficking figures for Mozambique, one of the poorest countries in the region, were the only ones available for Southern Africa. Mozambican women are recruited either through a "passive" or an "active" method by organised groups or minibus-taxi operators. The passive method targets female passengers already en route to South Africa. In the active method, traffickers offer women jobs as waitresses or sex workers in Johannesburg and charge R500 ($80) to smuggle them from the Mozambican capital, Maputo, through the Komatipoort or Ponta do Ouro border posts to South Africa. "The women stay in transit houses along South Africa's border with Mozambique and Swaziland for a night, where they are sexually assaulted as an initiation. They are then smuggled into Johannesburg and are kept in safe houses in Soweto and Lenasia until they are sold to brothels in Gauteng or KwaZulu-Natal for R1,000 (about $160)," Martens said. The women are also sold as wives to South African men for R650 (about $104). Malawian women are targeted by trafficking groups because they do not require a visa to enter the United Kingdom. Initial recruitment takes place through Malawian businesswomen, who are linked to the smuggling syndicates. Young women are lured by promises of job opportunities in Europe. Upon arrival, as the IOM discovered in the Netherlands, the women are sold to brothel owners for $10,000, and told they must work as prostitutes to pay off their debts. "The initiation process involves a ritual used to threaten the women," Martens said. They are asked for underwear, hair or nail clippings and threatened with death by magic if they do not cooperate. The IOM discovered that some brothels even brand or tattoo the women. European sex tourists recruit children in Malawi in the country's holiday resorts. "The tourists will often exert influence on the parents with expensive presents and promises of education and employment for their children in Europe," Martens said. Recruited children feature in pornographic films, which are often shot in Malawi and shown on the internet. The children are then used as sex slaves in private homes or sold to pedophile rings. "During our study we did not come across any children who had returned or had maintained contact with their parents," Martens said. Malawian businesswomen also recruit young women from rural areas and sell them across the borders to South Africa, while truck drivers lure them with promises of employment or marriage. South African women, who work as strippers or sex workers, are recruited by Chinese trafficking rings who advertise similar jobs in Macau, a former Portuguese colony, promising earnings of between $10,000 and $20,000. The women are made to sign contracts written in Chinese characters and then smuggled through Hong Kong to Macau, where they are sold to massage parlours for $500. "The traffickers impose an escalating debt burden, running into several thousands of dollars. The women are fed once a day, denied access to a telephone, and have no contact with the outside world," Martens said. In South Africa, Thai and Chinese groups recruit women from their home countries with promises of jobs in restaurants, or an unrealistic picture of the money to be earned in sex work. The women are flown to neighbouring countries and smuggled in to South Africa by land, where they are forced to work 15 to 16 hours a day. Their escalating debt burden usually ranges from $7,500 to $12,500. The Russian and Bulgarian mafia traffic Russian and East European women on fraudulent South Africa visas after luring them with similar job offers. "These women are often well educated. Once they get here, debt burdens of $12,000 to $15,000 are imposed on them," Martens said. If the women refuse, their families are often threatened with violence. "Refugees are both victims and perpetrators of trafficking in South Africa - they are unemployed and choose to recruit female relatives (aged from 25 to 45) from their countries of origin to South Africa," said Martens. The refugees are predominantly from Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda and Ethiopia, and have as associates members of the same clan. These associates act as couriers, delivering the letter of invitation to the female relative and sexually assaulting her as an initiation in to sex work. "This is a small-scale operation - a refugee will take on only one woman. She is not allowed to go home until she has made R250 for the day," Martens said. The IOM launched the Southern African Counter-Trafficking Assistance Programme (SACTAP) in January this year. The programme is aimed at assisting trafficked persons with care and support for a three-month period, including the option to return to their homes. SACTAP expects to be expanded fully into the Southern African region next year.
Disgraced SA doctor expelled from Canada (Mail&Guardian, 23/06) - John Schneeberger, the disgraced South African doctor jailed for sex crimes and stripped of his Canadian citizenship, on Monday lost his fight against expulsion from the country. An immigration Board hearing in Regina took less than 10 minutes to declare him an undesirable alien and order his deportation. Zambian-born, South African-raised Schneeberger, now 42, and his family came to Canada in 1987 and settled in Kipling, a small western farming town with a population of about 1 000 people. The highly popular doctor's secret life began to unravel in 1992, when a patient told police he had anaesthetised, undressed, raped and dressed her again before the injected narcotic wore off. The narcotic, it later turned out, was a drug called Midazolam. Laboratory tests failed to produce a DNA match between semen taken from her underwear and a sample of his blood. At his trial, Schneeberger described the way he thwarted science -- by making an incision on the inside of his left arm and inserting a plastic tube filled with a male patient's blood. He then insisted on having the sample drawn from the "vein," even though a tiny drop from a finger would have sufficed. He sexually attacked another woman on two separate occasions, but the judge dismissed additional charges of "improper use of drugs" in her case. A TV documentary titled I Accuse follows his first victim, Candice Foley, then 23, who found herself ostracised by a small-town community that resented her "false" charges against one of its most respected members. She moved to another town, Red Deer, and told her story to a retired Royal Canadian Mounted Police detective. He believed her, broke into the doctor's car, where he found a lip balm stick. He took a smear from it. A minute trace of saliva in the smear contained DNA matching that of the semen. Recently released after serving the mandatory two-thirds minimum of a six-year prison sentence, Schneeberger had his Canadian citizenship revoked for his failure to admit being under criminal investigation at the time he applied for it. His wife, Lisa Dillman, divorced him after it transpired that he had sexually molested his stepdaughter when she was 13.The board left open a decision as to whether Schneeberger will be sent to South Africa or Zambia.
Mozambicans in Limpopo Province (Mail&Guardian, 23/06) - The province of Limpopo bears witness to the successful , integration of the only massive influx of refugees in modern day South Africa, where Mozambicans fleeing a , brutal civil war have become part and parcel of the local people. The hordes of Mozambicans who descended on South Africa to flee the ravages of the civil war, which started in , 1976, totalled about 320000 when a peace accord was , signed in 1992 to end the conflict. In the northern Bushbuckridge district of the predominantly, agricultural province of Limpopo, one out of four people are of Mozambican origin. Today there are no distinctions between them and the locals. The high school in the village of Clare has some 500 . pupils of whom 60% are the children of Mozambican . refugees. "I feel I am a South African," Jito Lubisi (16) declared, proudly. He was born in South Africa two years after his, parents fled their native land. Peters Matebulan, a 44-year-old South African teaching ! English and biology, echoed the teenager, saying: "There is no dot-line any more." Matebulan said a testimony of this was borne out by the fact that the pejorative term "maputi" -- a corruption of the name of the Mozambican capital Maputo -- had gone out of currency with students. In a neighbouring village 64-year-old Sebastiao Sibuyi recounts the conditions that forced him to flee his native land in 1985. "There was a lot of fighting and a lot of shooting close to our home," he said. "People were being killed" and there was mass rape. Almost 20 years down the line Sibuyi has become an Induna -- a respected title signifying the head of the village. A key factor facilitating the successful integration was a common language, Shangaan, and similar cultural mores, said Tara Polzer, the director of the rural research project of the forced migration studies programme conducted by the Witwatersrand University. But there are also historic reasons which explain the hassle-free integration in one of South Africa's poorest provinces where three out of four families live on earnings of less than R400 (51 euros) a month. The region was the heart of the apartheid-era Bantustans or African homelands, where the black majority was shunted out by the white racist government which wanted to keep the races well apart from each other. Polzer said the "irony" of the situation was that the homelands offered a really "welcoming environment" to the refugees in stark contrast to the closed-door policy of Pretoria. After the fall of apartheid, the social integration was followed by legal integration due to a series of laws and bilateral accords. In the mid-1990s, 10% of Mozambicans who fled their country returned home but the majority preferred to stay on in South Africa and gained permanent residency, status. Melita Sunjic, public relations officer of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said: "It shows that refugees actually can be absorbed quite smoothly into the body of the population." But the going may not be as smooth for other refugees. Although South Africa, the continent's biggest economy, does not have a single refugee camp. it faces a major challenge now with the arrival of new refugees from trouble spots or poor countries such as Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Loren Landau, research coordinator and acting director of the forced migration studies programme conducted by the Witwatersrand University said local and national authorities had been in "a state of denial" over this phenomenon since 1994. "South Africa wants to be a regional leader and this means it will continue to attract immigrants, both legal and illegal, as well as refugees," Landau said.
Police crack fraudulent marriage ring (This Day, 23/06) - A doctor in Durban has allegedly used the identities of dying HIV-Aids patients to organize fraudulent marriages to secure permanent residence for foreigners, a police investigation has revealed. Detective Inspector Mtu Mbhele, the investigating officer, said earlier this week that a sophisticated syndicate operating from plush offices in Durban, had made about R3 million over the past two years. The syndicate used a number of methods to arrange the fraudulent marriages, including: - recruiting South African women to marry foreigners; - stealing the ID details of women who applied for non-existent jobs, and stealing the ID details of dying HIV-Aids patients. Detectives who infiltrated and cracked the syndicate seized records showing that more than 350 Pakistani men had benefited from the scam. The men paid about R9,000 each to "marry" South African women, which qualified them for permanent residency. Police also plan to arrest a priest who acted as a marriage officer in most of the cases. In some cases the priest certified the weddings even when the bride was not there or the ID used was not of the person attending the ceremony. He deliberately turned a blind eye and processed these marriages which is illegal for a marriage officer to do," said Mbhele. Police, who learnt of the scam after receiving a tip off, began to close the net around the syndicate last week when they arrested a Pakistani man after he tried to obtain a residency permit at the department of home affairs. "These people have genuine marriage certificates, which they present when applying for the permits. It is very difficult for officials to pick up when processing the papers," Mbhele said. The man, whose identity has been with held because more arrests are expected, had a marriage certificate that showed he was married to a woman who loved in Inanda, north of Durban. Detectives traced the woman and found she had full-blown Aids and was "very sick." "She was never married and did not know that her surname had changed to Bahir," said Mbhele. Detectives expect to arrest the doctor soon. He works at a provincial hospital in KwaZulu-Natal. Police believe he stole 10 patients files and sold the details to the agent who ran the scam. Mbhele said six Pakistanis involved in the scam had already been convicted and deported since last year. "There are about 15 other cases, which the accused are dragging through the courts at the moment, and we hope for a successful conviction that will lead to deportation," he said. Police also arrested four South African women this weekend who recruited young women to marry Pakistanis or who stole people's identities. Two of the women would turn state witnesses when the trial begins, police said. Some of the young women recruited to marry foreigners are believed to have been paid a fee of R500 and then another R200 every month until the permit was granted. Other women were conned into submitting their ID details when applying for non-existence jobs. "One of the women who was promised a job found that she had been married when she went to open a clothing account and was told that her surname had changed. "She went to the department (of home affairs) and found that she was married on the same day that her ID had been taken by a woman who had promised her a job," Mbhele said. Lesley Mashokwe, a spokesperson for the home affairs department, said if knew of scames where the identites of South African women were issued in fraudulent marriages as a precursor to obtaining permanent residence in the country. "We have issued a directive to all our regions to be more vigilant and that such marriages are scrutinised first before being processed," he said.
Aids-stricken nurse inspires miners to seek treatment (This Day, 22/06) - Only a few years ago she was a t death's door, bedridden with full-blown Aids. Today Noluthando Mbete leads a successful prevention and antiretroviral programme at Harmony Gold's Randfortein mine on the West Rand in Gauteng. The 48 year old nurse has become an inspiration to her colleagues at the mining company's Randfontein Cooke 3 shaft and many workers say they are no longer hesitant to take the HIV-Aids test. They also feel motivated to help fight the spread of the disease once they know their status. Because of the living and working conditions, the South African mining sector has long been a breeding found for the disease. Historically, miners migrated from far-flung areas, including neighbouring countries, to live onsite in single-sex hostels. Many of these men see their families for as little as a month a year and so prostitution has become a thriving business at the mine hostels. Some engage in unprotected sex, further aiding the spread of disease. South Africa has the world's largest group of people infected with HIV-Aids, numbering a little more than 5 million. Mine officials say about 28 percent of miners are HIV positive. Faced with impending crisis, the mining houses and the trade unions launched awareness campaigns to prevent further infections. The campaigns encourage miners to get tested and provide them with free treatment if they are infected with HIV. Mbete is considered to be a vital link in her employer's programme and doctors have credited her for increasing the number of workers who seek testing. Mineworkers usually do not cooperate with this type of programming because of the stigma attached to the disease. But Zandile Mokgatle, Harmony Gold's group chief medical office, told a visiting THISDAY team that Mbete had almost single-handedly changed the workers' perceptions of the disease. "they find it easy to relate because in her they see someone who has been through it all" Said Mokgatle. "When I am stuck in a counseling session. I just tell the patient: 'Would you like to meet someone who is in the same position as you?" The results have always been positive." she said. Mbete has become a minor celebrity among her colleagues and her photograph can be found alongside many Aids- awareness posters. Mbete was born in the Eastern Cape and has two children. Relating her story, she said that like many people infected with the disease she first refused to undergo an HIV test. "I used to be a carefree, naughty person," she said. She was in denial and feared being stigmatised by her colleagues, friends and relatives when her health inevitably deteriorated. In October 2001, after a persistent illness, she was encouraged to take a test and get the necessary treatment. Two weeks after starting antiretroviral treatment she was back on her feet. She also gained weight and has put on more than 20 kg since starting the treatment. Harmony started implementating its HIV-Aids programme in 2002. With the help of mine hospital officials, Mbete opened a mobile "wellness clinic" last December. She ran it from the boot of a car, and booked herself as its first outpatient. the mobile clinic opened the way for the mine programme and now forms part of the company's broader Aids programme. The programme has been extended to all of Harmony Gold's mines in Gautent, the North West and the Free State. The programming includes door-to-door education campaigns at the mines and recruits peer educators. It also boasts three mobile clinics which were donated by USAid, an US government programme. The number of new patients receiving counselling and treatment at Mbete's clinic grows almost daily. "Judging by the symptoms from which I myself had suffered, I could see that a lot of people were infected and [I] started a drive to teach them about the importance of taking treatment, "Mbete said.
Land Minister considers curb on foreign ownership (Cape Times, 22/06) - Land and Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza plans to start talks on limiting foreign property ownership in the country to put the brakes on escalating prices and make home ownership affordable for South Africans .Didiza's spokesman Nana Zenani said yesterday the government had decided to open dialogue on the issue. "We need to look at the affordability of land because South Africans can't compete with foreigners and their dollars, who want to buy property in the coastal and other areas, because of the exchange rate. We need to ease the pressure," Zenani said. An option under consideration was to convert foreign-owned title deeds to 99-year leases. Zenani could not confirm whether the step, if adopted, would be implemented retrospectively. "We have not got to the discussions, so for now it is just a consideration (of the idea). Other options will come out of the discussions," Zenani said. The Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs is researching foreign property ownership to establish how much land is in foreign hands. Property developers, estate agents, farmers' unions and other government departments would be invited to the dialogue, which would start before the end of the year. However, economists and estate agents have argued that foreign buyers have no effect on the middle and lower ends of the market. Rather, it was the influx of upwardly mobile black South Africans pushing up the demand for and prices of property, they said. There were no fears of a Zimbabwe-style land grab. Tradek economist Mike Schussler said any move to limit foreign ownership would stifle foreign direct investment and force foreign buyers to go underground using front companies and nominees. "I don't think foreigners will want 99-year leases. Foreigners should be able to buy land. "If we want overseas investment we need to be as investment friendly as possible. "South Africans are also making a profit selling property at a high price to foreigners and that is money that will stay in the economy for a while. "Poor people are unlikely to be looking to buy property in areas foreigners are going to buy in. "The government does a lot of things right, but this doesn't make sense," he said. Schussler said the government needed rather to look at ways of unlocking untapped capital in townships, where banks were still reluctant to lend because it was not easy to evict defaulting debtors. "It would unlock a lot of our middle-class wealth and we would see a lot more upward mobility than black economic empowerment has given us. It should remain an open market, foreigners should be allowed to buy in and people's property rights should be protected," he said. Brent Townes, CEO of Sotheby's International Realty, which deals largely with foreign cash buyers, estimated that foreigners owned at most 8% of local property. "We do not have foreigners buying in the R250 000 to R500 000 end of the market and that is where the demand is and where there is a shortage of stock. That market is being fed by local people with real incomes," Townes said. "Foreign people buy in specific pockets ... They are not significant purchasers of properties up to the R1 million mark. How can such a small percentage have such a big swing in the market? "The property market is growing because of the economy and jobs. There are real forces at play. The foreign market is not distorting prices, the price inflation must and will continue," he said.
Why I fled from home to South Africa (Daily News, 22/06) - Tears streaming down his face, 64-year-old Sebastiao Passe Sibuyi shakes uncontrollably as he recalls the day he fled his Mozambican home hours after finding his six children butchered. Sibuyi and three friends from a village in central Mozambique had been ploughing their field in 1983 when they returned home to find their families massacred. Sibuyi's children - Hannah, Sibuyi, Claude, Mathebula, Castro and Lizata, ranging in age from 12 to five - had been hacked to death with machetes before their bodies were put on display. Castro and five-year-old Lizata had been decapi-tated and their genitals mutilated. The others had shot in the back of the head and their bodies hacked with pangas. They were among 24 girls and boys killed in Sibuyi's village by Mozambican soldiers during that country's civil war in the 1980s. The wives of the all the men were abducted and have never been seen by their husbands since they fled more than 1700km to South Africa 11 years ago. Of the six men who fled with Sibuyi, only two survived the journey through minefields and the marauding rebel groups who hunted down the estimated 320,000 Mozambican refugees who fled to South Africa. Recounting his horrific journey, Sibuyi said that they were determined to survive so that they could reach South Africa. "I knew that if I was caught I would be killed, like my children. I had no choice but to flee to South Africa," he said when asked why he had settled in South Africa. Living now in Limpopo's Bushbuck Ridge, with 2 500 Mozambican families, Sibuyi, who is now an induna in his village, said throughout the journey they had been pursued. "We met hundreds of people in the bush. It was like the migration of animals with everybody fleeing for their lives. "Sometimes you could hear people screaming at night when they were being tortured by the soldiers who caught them," he said. Asked what it had been like settling in South Africa's then homeland of Gazankulu, Sibuyi said at first it had been hard. "Everything was so new and different. We were chased from several villages by people who said we brought death with us and that we were thieves, but eventually we were taken in by villages living near the mountain," said Sibuyi, pointing at the Blyde River Canyon mountains. Since settling in South Africa, Sibuyi has endured many hardships, including the death of his best friend, South African Johannes Ndlovu, who took him in and helped him build a house. Asked if he would go back to Mozambique, Sibuyi said no. "I have nothing there for me. My children were killed and my wife stolen. "South Africa is my home and I am a South African and I will do anything for my country," he said, proudly displaying his newly acquired South African Identity Document. Explaining the difficulties experienced as a former Mozambican refugee living in South Africa, Sibuyi said: "There are many, such as receiving money and housing grants especially because of those who steal from the government which has allowed us to stay," he said. Sibuyi was referring to several Mozambican "businessmen" who allegedly exploit the country's social welfare system by taking the money from their grants back to Mozambique with them every month to sustain their families in that country. "These few people bring us trouble, making it difficult for us and our South African neighbours, who need the grants to survive," he said. Sibuyi said despite these difficulties they lived in harmony with their South African neighbours, with many Mozambican women and men marrying South Africans. "Life here is very good. We are at peace and survive despite the hardships we have to endure. I will never return to Mozambique as this country is now my home and I am a South African."
Human trafficking growing in SA (SABC News, 22/06) - Human trafficking is growing in South Africa. This was revealed by the War Against Trafficking Alliance at the conference against sex trafficking in Benoni, on the East Rand. Linda Smith, the founder of War Against Trafficking Alliance, says children are often the victims being used as prostitutes. Smith's fight against human trafficking was triggered by a jarring experience during her visit to India. "I ended up holding a young girl, about 11. That was the age of my granddaughter. My granddaughter is playing with her friends at home and I realised that this girl was being used in prostitution and I can do something for her or leave," said Smith. Between two and four million people have become human cargo, putting up to R120 billion into traffickers' pockets every year. Experts at the conference say South Africa should take the lead in Africa to combat this. "South Africa is significant in the region, because it's a destination country for trafficking persons, while also a source country and a transit country for women and children are trafficked to other parts of the world, including Asia, Europe and North America," Jonathan Martens of the International Organisation for Migration said. Thoko Majokweni, the head of the sexual offences and community affairs, says measures to combat the crime are in place. "We actually established an inter-departmental trafficking task team which is going to lead the processes," said Majokweni. Legislation that regulates the criminilisation of sex trafficking in the country is expected to be issued later this year.
Anger and despair as gold mine dies (This Day, 22/06) - There is a feeling of hopeless anger at the country's oldest operating gold mine, ERPM, which faces the closure of its underground operations within 10 months at the cost of 2600 jobs - and there is no prospect of a reprieve. On a wall at the entrance to the dilapidated mine's head office is a plaque commemorating the reopening of ERPM in March 2000 after it had gone into liquidation. "Today marks the historic reopening of East Rand Proprietary Mines and celebrates the glory and pain of the working masses and entrepreneurs of our country," the plaque reads. Four years later the strong rand has crippled those lofty sentiments. Nearly half the mine's workers are from neighbouring countries and some dread the thought of leaving South Africa and the labour that has sustained their families. "I feel very angry. There is nowhere I can go to get another job. I'm going to suffer and so is my family," said Jaoa Come, 46, a Mozambican who has 12 dependants in Maxixe, Inhambane province. He has worked on the Boksburg mine since 1975, rising to the rand of development team leader but his chances of being employed by another gold mine are slim. ERPM's back has been broken by the strong rand, which has cut the price earned by local miners for their gold to only R79,300 a kilogram from above R100,000. The rand has forced a large swathe of the industry into marginal territory where their costs are nearly matching their revenue. In the last three months of 2003 the mine produced 25,239 ounces of gold at a cash cost of R84,669 a kilogram. "It will take a huge amount of capital to make [underground operations] viable, safe and stable," said Michael Marriott, EPRM's operations direction. "In the current environment it does not make sense to inject huge amounts of capital," he said, estimating the amount that would be required at R450 million. The mine, more than a century old, has problems that make extracting its gold difficult and expensive. it has difficult geological and seismic characteristics and ERPM must spend millions of rands each month pumping out underground water, something the government recently stopped subsidizing. The mine has already had a scare: in late 199 it went into provisional liquidation. It was nursed back to life and Durban Roodepoort Deep, together with black empowerment group Khumo Bathong Holding, bough it for R90 million in late 2002. A last minute rescue is unlikely, contrary to the hopes of some workers who believe there might be a reprieve, given the mine's history. "I'm not aware of any formal approach by any white knights but if there are any out there they would certainly be most welcome," Marriot said. Workers are still digesting the news after being told last week that their jobs will be of reclamation and asset disposals begins. "I'm not happy. I've got nothing to do when the mine closes. I'll go look for another job and not only in the mines," said Anastacia Mokhomole, 22, a South African who started working at the mine in October 2002. She earns R1300 a month to support her baby and four other jobless dependants. The company rejected four plans put forward by a consultative forum on the grounds that they were not economically viable. JJJ Pieterse, on the mine for 18 years, worries whether he can keep his old mine house where he provides for three people. "I don't believe they can just evict us. We just don't know what to do."
Talks over foreigners owning land in SA (This Day, 21/06) - The government plans to start talks on limiting foreign ownership of real estate in South Africa to combat spiraling land and property prices. Options under consideration include converting foreign-owned title deeds to 99 year leases, Thoko Didiza, the land and agriculture minister, said last week through her spokesperson Nana Zenani. She said she was unable to say if such a stem could be imposed retroactively. A broad range of stakeholders, including property developers, estate agents, farmers' unions and other government departments would be invited to join a "dialogue over foreign ownership," she said. She said many South Africans could no longer afford high land or property prices. Talks were expected to start "by the end of the year", she said. The British high commission was not prepared to comment on possible measure to regulate foreign property ownership in South African. "The UK has no restriction on foreign ownership of land or property," said Nick Sheppard, the high commission's spokesperson. Property experts were alarmed by the government's plans and disagreed with the view that foreigners influenced prices. Erwin Rode, a property economist, said halting foreigners from owning real estate was not about the pricing of property, but about "chauvinistic paranoia". Rode said foreign investors' influence on prices was insignificant, except perhaps in Cape Town. But even if they did influence prices it was not the government's business if somebody wanted to pay R20 million for a property in Clifton. "The mere fact that the government is opening discussions on this will make the red lights flash in overseas markets," Rode said. "We must make up our minds. do we want foreign investment in the economy or don't we? "For the life of me I cannot see the difference between investing in South African equities and bonds of investing in South African real estate. "If we limit real estate foreign ownership, why not limit other investments?" Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding property group, said it would oppose any plans to limit foreign ownership unless research proved that foreign ownership of real estate was negative for South Africa.
UN body urges SA to take care of refugees ( Business Day, 21/06) - Until city officials establish administrative programmes addressing access to housing, health and education for refugees and their families in SA, their living conditions will remain poor, says the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Marking the World Refugee Day yesterday , the commission called on governments and host communities in SA to contribute towards helping refugees find a place they could call home during their stay in exile. UNHCR representative in SA Bemma Donkoh said until such time as they were either able to return or find other solutions, refugees needed a place where they could live in dignity. Refugees in SA come from Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Liberia, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia and also Sudan. She said despite backlogs, the home affairs department was increasingly improving its services and shortening the waiting periods for documentation of refugees. However, she said many cities and towns were hardly aware of their expected role in helping to integrate their guests with local citizens. Donkoh said city development had to take account of migrant concerns in drafting social and economic strategies. However, while refugees were supposed to enjoy the human rights culture guaranteed under the South African constitution they were being left to fend for themselves in a xenophobic environment and were unable to get employment. "The UNHCR has given priority to advocating for refugees' access to social grants, and has supported the idea of granting to asylum seekers the right to work," she said. Donkor said refugees' new lives were characterised not only by a sense of loss and separation from the past, but also by the confusion and uncertainties of struggling to adapt to new lifestyles and challenges.
DRC Minister find safe haven in SA (Sunday Times, 20/06) - Two Congolese cabinet ministers accused by the United Nations of looting their country's mineral wealth under the cover of civil war have established havens for themselves in South Africa. The pair have been exposed by two South African businessmen who have successfully sued the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for breach of their contracts. They say they have uncovered a network of Congolese assets in South Africa. Frans van Jaarsveld of George and Frans Rootman of Pretoria say that the Congolese assets are controlled by Augustin Mwanke Katumba, the DRC's prime minister, and Jean-Charles Okoto, the minister for economic planning and a former defence minister. Both have been identified in a report signed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in October 2002 as members of "the elite network" of Congolese and Zimbabwean politicians and businessmen illegally exploiting the DRC's mineral wealth, particularly cobalt and diamonds. Okoto and Katumba (among other Congolese ministers identified in the UN report) face arrest in Belgium, Germany, France and the UK for "pillaging" their country's assets, in terms of a resolution passed by the European parliament in January last year. Ironically, Van Jaarsveld and Rootman were initially contracted by the DRC government to help crack down on fraud, theft and corruption. Van Jaarsveld owns a company that provides forgery-proof documentation and certification, such as passports. Rootman is a special investigator who was hired by the DRC to trace cobalt stolen from mines in the vast country. After the DRC defaulted on their contracts, both Van Jaarsveld and Rootman, acting independently of each other, began investigating their former clients, seeking out Congolese assets that could be attached and sold to honour their contracts. Van Jaarsveld has been awarded judgment against the DRC for 2-million and Rootman for just under 12-million. Each was given a one-third share of the proceeds of the sale of a Falcon civilian jet that was auctioned at Lanseria Airport in October last year. Executive Outcomes, which controversially provides security services to African governments, was awarded the other third of the 1.9-million that was raised in the auction. This week the Rand Supreme Court awarded Van Jaarsveld the right to attach shares in the Congolese mining company Gecamines. Randburg attorney Marinus van Jaarsveld said this week that the share certificates were probably held at the Midrand offices of Gecamines Trading, but he had no idea whether he would be able to secure these for his client. Uncertain as to whether he would be able to realise the value of the Gecamines shares, Frans van Jaarsveld has looked elsewhere for Congolese assets. His inquiries, and those of Rootman, led to the discovery that: Katumba is the sole director of an off-the-shelf company called Kikukat Investments, with its address registered as 35 Greenhill Road, Emmarentia, Johannesburg. However, a visit to the address this week showed that it is in fact occupied by an "adult shop" called L'Amour. Katumba is also registered as the owner of two residential properties. One is at 134 Golf Club Terrace, Roodepoort, and the other is a 1 500m' in Constantia Kloof. Okoto owns a company called Unit 101 Barry Hertzog, with its address registered as 137 Daisy Street, corner of Grayston Drive, Sandown. He is also registered in South Africa as the president of Société Miniere de Bakwanga (Miba), a DRC-owned diamond mining company, with offices in Ernest Oppenheimer Drive, Bruma. In February 2004, international media reported that a Belgian judge had issued an international warrant of arrest for Okoto for allegedly misappropriating Miba funds to the value of $80-million. "The question is, why do they have these companies in South Africa?" Van Jaarsveld said this week. "If the DRC government does not know abut these assets and companies, how do these people get money to purchase these properties, invest and run companies in South Africa? The fact remains that the system in South Africa is being exploited very easily by foreigners."
South Africa to hold forum on human trafficking (AngolaPress, 20/06) - A three-day conference jointly organised by the South African government and the War Against Trafficking Alliance opens here next Tuesday to discuss strategies in the global fight against human trafficking in South Africa. The conference will also launch the agenda of the newly developed National Task Team to combat trafficking in persons chaired by the National Prosecutors Authority. The task team is expected to facilitate a multi-sectoral response and cooperation in the development and implementation of a national action plan to prevent trafficking in human beings. Conference participants will include key leaders in government, advocacy and direct services who will discuss creating concrete actions plans for key components of the task team's agenda. South Africa is a country of origin, destination and transit for victims of trafficking primarily for purposes of prostitution and forced labour. Victims are trafficked from numerous countries including Thailand, Romania, Mozambique and Lesotho, most of which are facilitated by organised crime networks. South African women and children are also victims of this trade, which is reportedly managed by the hands of Nigerian rings. "This event will build upon existing efforts to strengthen capacity for services and momentum of the South African government's efforts. It is absolutely necessary for governments and direct service providers to develop a shared vision and capacity if we are going to put a stop to this modern form of slavery," former U.S. Congresswoman Linda Smith stated Friday. Smith, who is also the founding President of Shared Hope International, a non-governmental organisation, founded the War Against Trafficking Alliance. The conference, scheduled on the theme "The next steps to path breaking strategies in the global fight against sex trafficking in South Africa", is the fifth follow up event to the world summit co-sponsored by the War Against Trafficking Alliance and the US Department of State in February 2003 in Washington, DC. United Nations figures show that 800,000 to 900,000 persons are trafficked across international borders each year. This number however does not take into account trafficking within the borders of a country, which pushes the number to between two to four million trafficked internationally. Traffickers are estimated to earn up to US$19 billion annually. Organised criminal networks, including Nigerian gangs, Chinese, Russian, and Bulgarian mafias, control most of the trafficking in women and children in the region, said the International Organisation for Migration. According to a study by Molo Songolo, South Africa is a destination country for women and children from Kenya, Latvia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Taiwan, Thailand, Romania, Russia and Zambia, while it is also a country of origin for Canada, United Kingdom and the European Union. Trafficking in human beings in South Africa was said to be the third most lucrative crime next to trafficking in drugs and weapons and as many as 500 organised crime groups were operating in South Africa.
Cops bust travel document ring (City Press, 19/06) - A team of South African crime intelligence police officers worked for over nine months with British police in London. This culminated in the arrests this week of an alleged Zimbabwean-born mastermind forger who had been producing fake SA visas, identity documents, birth certificates and passports. City Press can today reveal that during "Operation Maxim" the SA police infiltrated the syndicate, which allegedly owned a sophisticated industrial printing press with watermarks capability that produced documents that looked genuine. Blank birth certificates were found when police raided the premises this week. The machine was able to reproduce thousands of lDs, visas and passports. Police crime intelligence head, Commissioner Mulingani Mphego, told City Press in an exclusive interview that 20 people (12 men and eight women) were arrested in London this week. Among them is Harry Wilson, a Zimbabwean-born naturalised UK citizen who is reputed to be a billionaire. Wilson is described by police as "well acquainted with South Africa", has travelled widely here and in other parts of the world and owns many properties here and in the UK. Also arrested with him was another Zimbabwean, Martin Slater, who was allegedly the passport carrier. Other arrests have been made in Malaysia and Indonesia, Mphego said. The syndicate allegedly also had South African operatives, and the arrest of at least another five people is imminent. Mphego said South African documents were targeted because travel with SA documents is easier through many centres of the world, especially the UK and US, which have clamped down on the passports of many countries since September 11, 2001. The documents were allegedly not produced for South Africans but for anyone who might have needed them. Money generated through the scheme was allegedly laundered through properties in the UK, but South Africa was the key channel, where a number of old-age homes were bought. The bulk was used to buy heavy-duty and earth-moving vehicles from South Africa, which were then taken to Zimbabwe. The syndicate allegedly also operated other businesses as fronts. "These businesses may not even be profitable in themselves but would show a profit through the money laundered through them," Mphego said. doing audits of the properties in the two countries, Mphego said. The aim was to seize the properties. Mphego said customers who approached the syndicate for documents were vetted through "professional counter-intelligence methods of being followed and monitored for a long period. "The operation was a very difficult one. It took us almost a year of hard work. We had to get our people in there. If someone went in saying they were an Afrikaner South African needing documents, he had to be Afrikaner and speak with the right accent. "It was dangerous work but we got our people right in there. It started because of concern by both our country and the UK over the abuse of travel documents. "The key thing is that these documents were not produced with the collusion of any South African government official. This was not corruption of home affairs staff. These were independent professional people who were producing these documents on their own from their own machines. "South African documents are considered gold in that market. The people who would need them therefore do not need to be heading for South Africa but just needing travel documents that would lead to the least number of questions and least suspicion when they travelled to wherever they may be going. "People would also need the South African documents for naturalisation in places such as the UK because of the relationship between South Africa and the UK, which translates into easy access to permanent resident status," Mphego said. Concern in government has been raised about whether these forged documents could have fallen into the hands of terror operatives. Mphego said: "The producers of these documents were not targeting any particular group. Anyone who needed them and had the money could have had them. So we cannot say whether any terror group got the forged documents."
Consulate comments on clashes involving Mozambicans (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique News, 18/06) - The Mozambican consulate in Johannesburg has denied media reports that clashes in the mining region of Rustenburg, in South Africa's Northwestern province, early this month, that claimed the lives of one Mozambican and one South African, were caused by protests against the presence of Mozambicans in the region. The Mozambican Consul, Mario Tembe, told AIM that the incident was a tribal conflict between speakers of the Xhosa and Shangaan languages, rather than a battle between South Africans and Mozambicans, as reported by some media, including the local "Jacaranda Radio". Tembe said that as soon as the Consulate learnt of those reports, it dispatched a mission to Rustenburg to investigate, and it found the reports to be misinformed. He said that there were indeed Mozambicans involved in the fighting, but simply because they are Shangaan speakers, not because they are Mozambicans - Shangaan is one of the main languages spoken in southern Mozambique, but there is also a sizeable community of Shangaan speakers in South Africa. "During our investigations we concluded that this is a longstanding rivalry between the two language groups", said Tembe. The Consulate also found that the clashes were sparked off by an incident involving a Xhosa girl. Tembe said that on 4 June, a Shangaan-speaking man, who happened to be a Mozambican, was accused of raping a Xhosa girl in the Rustenberg suburb of Freedom Park. The man, whose name was not revealed, denied the accusation, and the girl's mother mobilised a group of Xhosas for a fight against the Shangaans. It was described as a fierce battle, with Xhosas setting ablaze the homes and other possessions of the Shangaans. Tembe revealed that two people were killed, and more than 40 houses and many vehicles were burned to ashes. Four of the vehicles were under repair at a garage belonging to a Mozambican. Four people were wounded, and two pistols were seized. The clashes led to the arrest of at least 26 people. Tembe said that the Consulate's mission, that also included a team from the Mozambican High Commission in Pretoria, identified more than 150 Mozambicans in the region. He said that most Mozambicans lost their documents to the fire. "These citizens, although they are there legally, have lost their documents. Our task, as an institution that caters for the Mozambicans in this country, is to protect them, and at this moment we are discussing with the South African authorities how to get documentation for those who have lost it", he said. "We have met with the Rustenburg municipal authorities to discuss ways to obtain documents for those Mozambicans, and they promised us that the Interior Ministry will be directly involved in the matter", he added. Tembe said that the measure could cover even those Mozambicans who are found to be staying illegally in the area. He said that those Shangaans who managed to flee during the fighting, took refuge in a local Anglican Church, and are refusing to return to their areas of residence, for fear of new conflicts.
Initiative to fight human trafficking (Irinnews.org, 18/06) - An initiative to build collaboration between government and NGOs to fight human trafficking will be launched at a conference in South Africa next week, according to the activist body, War Against Trafficking Alliance. The three-day conference, "The Next Steps to Path Breaking Strategies in the Global Fight Against Sex Trafficking, is sponsored by a global coalition of NGOs and the South African National Prosecuting Authority. The Johannesburg conference beginning on 22 June will help put together a newly constituted national task team's agenda on combating human trafficking and is the fifth follow-up of a world summit held in Washington last year. South Africa is a country of origin, destination and transit for victims, who are trafficked primarily for purposes of prostitution and forced labour. Refugees from neighbouring African countries, children from Lesotho, women and girls from Mozambique, Malawi, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Senegal, Taiwan, Russia, Thailand, Latvia and Romania are all trafficked into South Africa. After drugs and weapons, trafficking in human beings is South Africa's third most lucrative crime, according to the NGO, Molo Songololo, a child rights advocacy group. Women and children from South Africa also make their way to Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union. The global coalition will also release video footage documenting sex tourism in South Africa. "Leaders in the anti-trafficking movement must strive for balance in their efforts to provide long-term service provision and successful prosecution, conviction and sentencing for those who prey on the vulnerable," said founder of the coalition, Linda Smith. "I believe this video will shock participants and sustain the good efforts being made to put these predators behind bars."
SA citizens may be part of UK visa scam (Business Day, 18/06) - Police have not ruled out the possibility of South African citizens being involved in an overseas immigration visa racket , in which more than 1000 people entered the UK illegally on student visas. Police issued a statement following Wednesday's arrest of 20 UK nationals for their alleged involvement in the scam . The arrests sparked fear that South African citizens might be involved in the UK visa syndicate, after police visited a Durban property linked to the scam. It is alleged that mostly South African nationals were issued with fraudulent student visas, either by using counterfeit immigration stamps and false documents or by registering them at nonexistent colleges. The South African victims allegedly paid several hundred pounds to get a student visa for between six months and three years, while the suspected ringleaders made at least £1m. Police spokeswoman Sally de Beer said yesterday that while British police were raiding several houses in London, South African police officials targeted a Durban property belonging to one of the UK suspects. She said SA's crime intelligence division had been co-operating with British police for the past five months, assisting with their investigations. "The SAPS (South African Police Service ) will continue assisting the UK police with a view to the seizure of local assets of the suspects," De Beer said. "At this stage, the possibility of any South African citizen or official being involved has not been established, but, as investigations continue, cannot be ruled out." However, the home affairs department said yesterday it would not get involved in the UK investigations as the issuing of visas was the prerogative of that country, and had nothing to do with SA. "This is a British immigration law issue. Somebody has done something with the British visas and it has got nothing to do with our passports," said department spokesman Leslie Mashokwe . He said SA would help in the investigation if South African passports were found to have been issued fraudulently. He said the department would launch an investigation only when South Africans in the UK were deported home and found to have used fake passports when applying for their visas. De Beer confirmed that those arrested in the UK were mainly British nationals, including naturalised citizens. "It must be emphasised that this is a UK investigation involving a student visa scam being run in and around London." The network behind the racket had been under investigation for more than a year. But detectives believed it may have been operating for several years, a British police official said yesterday. A financial investigation was under way to recover any criminal assets. The South African high commission in the UK said yesterday that it had inquired about the investigation and was still waiting for feedback from the London metropolitan police. UK police said most of the students had come to the UK in search of a better life but that their status in that country was now under threat. They also faced deportation to the country of their origin.
SA victims of UK visa scam face expulsion (Cape Argus, 18/06) - Hundreds of young South Africans who thought they were in Britain legally could be forced to go home after the arrest of 20 people in London over a student visa scam. The fraudulently obtained visas brought more than 1 000 people, mainly South Africans, to Britain. It later emerged in Pretoria that several Home Affairs officials are suspected to be behind the scam. Detective Chief Inspector Steven Kupis, who led yesterday's arrests in London, said those who had come to the UK with the illicit visas were mainly South African, black and white. "They stand to be returned to their country of origin if they are here illegally," he said. "It is a matter for the Immigration Service and we are progressing with that. "These people are victims. They have given up money, sometimes unknowingly, to these people purporting to be agents. "They are losing not only their money, but their right to be in this country." The UK operation was co-ordinated with raids in Durban yesterday linked to the South African end of the scam. Director Sally de Beer, in the office of the National Police Commissioner, said today none of those arrested was from South Africa. "All of those arrested were British nationals. "The South African detective and crime intelligence unit assisted the British intelligence unit five months ago after a property was identified in Durban which was linked to the British investigation." More than 120 officers of the London Metropolitan Police specialist crime directorate swooped on 12 addresses across London and in adjoining Essex, including two suspected bogus colleges. At the same time, detectives of the SAPS crime intelligence division raided houses in Durban. The scam perpetrators are thought to have pocketed at least £1 million (R11.6m).The arrested UK suspects - eight of them women - were detained on suspicion of offences relating to helping people illegally enter and remain in the UK, as well as money-laundering, a Metropolitan Police spokesman said. De Beer confirmed yesterday that the crime intelligence division had raided homes linked to the UK syndicate's suspected South African assets. The assets identified are believed to include several luxury homes and cars, valued at more than R2m.De Beer said the SAPS had been working with UK police for five months. Home Affairs spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said it was suspected that several Home Affairs officials were the brains behind the fake visa racket. "Last week the Minister of Home Affairs, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, vowed to deal with corrupt officials in the Department of Home Affairs," Mashokwe said. He promised more details on the clampdown today.
Refugees play cat and mouse game with police (Inter Press Service, 18/06) - A man who wishes to be identified as Soyu Mokili has discovered that the streets of South Africa's main commercial city, Johannesburg, are not paved with gold in the way he expected. Although Mokili came to South Africa to seek refuge from the turmoil in his country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, he does not yet have legal refugee status. As a result, he spends most of his time playing a cat and mouse game with the police. "Whenever I see the police I disappear from the scene as fast as my legs can carry me," he told IPS, smiling. But, he immediately added, "I'm submitting my application for asylum soon." In the meantime Mokili exists on the fringes of society, eking out a living in Hillbrow: a high-density suburb of Johannesburg which is notorious for crime and drug dealing. He does menial jobs and occasionally runs errands for a restaurant owner in the area. His salary of less than 150 dollars a month barely covers the cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in Hillbrow, and buying food and medicine. To make ends meet, he shares the room with another two asylum seekers, one from the DRC, the other from Angola. The story of how Mokili arrived in South Africa makes for a fascinating, if harrowing, tale. The 19-year-old crossed through six countries - Burundi, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique - before arriving in South Africa. Under United Nations regulations, people fleeing their country must declare themselves to authorities in the first state they enter - in Mokili's case, Burundi. "But Burundi is at war, and there is nothing much one can do there," he said. "Although life is tough in South Africa, it's much better than Burundi." His Congolese roommate, who calls himself Pierre, nods. "If you work hard in Johannesburg, you can make it. But you must have skills and connections in order to find a good job," he told IPS. Under the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, adopted in 1951, a refugee is defined as a person who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country." Financial hardship in many countries has also created a burgeoning group of 'economic refugees', however. Mokili says he fled conflict in the DRC. According to the London-based human rights watchdog, Amnesty International, over two million people have died since fighting erupted in this central African country in 1998. Although the war officially ended last year, a recent upsurge of violence in eastern DRC and a failed coup attempt on Jun. 10 have shown that the situation in the country remains volatile. As the international community marks World Refugee Day on Sunday, Jun. 20, the hope is that more attention will be paid to Mokili and countless others in his situation. Last year, South Africa's parliament heard that there were 24,000 recognised refugees in the country, with 51,000 asylum applications pending. Most asylum applicants came from the DRC, Angola, Mozambique, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Nigeria. These figures pale in comparison with statistics from other countries in the region, however. Tanzania currently hosts the largest number of refugees in the Southern African Development Community: 648,184. Zambia has taken in 238, 910 refugees and Botswana 2,818, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In an ironic twist, the DRC is itself host to almost 273,000 refugees. Inevitably, these influxes have weighed heavily on countries which are already struggling to meet the demands of their own populations. Some hope, however, has been created by the outbreak of peace in Angola, which has prompted many who fled that country to return home voluntarily. Last week, about 365 Angolan refugees left the Meheba settlement camp in western Zambia with the assistance of the UNHCR, to return to their country. More are expected to follow in weekly convoys from Zambia, with the repatriation of groups from the Mayukwayukwa and Ukwimi camps scheduled to begin in July. The UNHCR plans to help 40,000 Angolan refugees leave Zambia before the start of the rainy season at the end of October. A separate programme, which got underway in May, focuses on repatriating Angolans who sought refuge in Namibia. In all, the UNHCR expects 145,000 Angolan refugees to return home this year, 90,000 of them with the agency's assistance. About 223,000 Angolans are thought to be living in the DRC, Zambia, Namibia, the Republic of Congo, South Africa and Botswana. Once home, the returnees are provided with agricultural tools and seeds. They also receive plastic sheeting to build homes. But life remains hard. "Often widows, orphans and the elderly come to look for money for feeding, school fees and medicines," Isaias Samakuva, Chairman of the opposition Union for the Total Liberation of Angola (UNITA), told IPS in an earlier interview. UNITA, which operated as a rebel movement for over 30 years, signed a ceasefire with government in 2002 after the death of its founder, Jonas Savimbi, who was killed by government troops. This week some 150 legislators from 26 African countries met in Cotonou, Benin, to promote refugee protection. According to the UNHCR, four million Africans live as refugees, while another 13 million have been internally displaced, due to war and human rights abuse.
Home Affairs will not probe fake visas (Sapa, 17/06) - South Africa would not be involved in investigations into alleged issuing of fraudulent United Kingdom visas to its the Department of Home Affairs said on Thursday. "The issuing of visas by a specific country is the prerogative of the country concerned and has nothing to do with South department spokesman Leslie Mashokwe said in Pretoria. "It would only concern us if this was done on fake South. passports." Mashokwe denied media reports that the department would p corruption in its midst after the arrests of 20 people in for issuing fake visas to visitors. The department would only consider the matter once the So Africans, now in the UK illegally, were deported back home if they were found to have applied for their visas with f passports would a probe be launched. "Because no fake passport can be provided without the help corrupt official", Mashokwe said. UK police arrested 20 UK citizens and naturalised national Wednesday in an operation code named Taming. No South Africans were arrested in the operation, said to largest yet carried out by the Metropolitan Police under Maxim - an initiative to tackle organised immigration crime London. The alleged fraud involved providing foreigners, mostly S Africans, with documents falsely claiming they were study colleges around London. Metropolitan police worked closely with the SA Police Ser (SAPS) on this investigation for the past five months, police spokeswoman Director Sally de Beer said. She said UK police confiscated printing presses and other accessories linked to the alleged crime in London during Wednesday's raid. Investigators have also identified personal property in Durban belonging to a UK natural allegedly in the seam. "The SAPS will continue assisting the UK police view to the seizure of local assets of the suspects," loc said in a statement. De Beer said no South Africans have been arrested for the so far, but victims of the seam were expected to be deported back home. British police were more interested in "the big guns" than apprehending those who obtained the fake documents, she added. Police believed about 1,000 students paid between UK120 (about Rl,400) and UK 180 (about R2,147) for the fraudulent documents. UK assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, responsible for Operation Maxim, was quoted by the BBC as saying the probe highlighted the Metropolitan Police's determination to counter organised immigration crime in London. Those arrested were being detained on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry into the UK as well as money laundering, and were being questioned at various police stations in London, he reportedly said.
Fake visas put South Africans in UK (Business Day, 17/06) - About a thousand South Africans in the UK on fraudulent student visas face the risk of being deported to SA following the arrest yesterday of 20 people who allegedly facilitated their illegal entry into that country. The 20 were arrested in London in dawn raids targeting an immigration racket that brought more than 1000 people, mostly South Africans, into Britain using the student visas. The South African high commission in the UK said yesterday it was not officially informed about the operation. The commission's offices were closed yesterday to mark the Youth Day holiday. Spokesman Malusi Mahlulo said he did not have details of who had been detained or of the circumstances of the arrests. A police official said the network behind the suspected racket had been under investigation for more than a year, but detectives believed it may have been operating for several years. The network had allegedly provided the student visas, using counterfeit immigration stamps and false documents, and registered them at bogus colleges. Each recipient of the visas paid "several hundred pounds" to get a student visa for between six months and three years. Detective chief inspector Steven Kupis, who led yesterday's operation, said that those coming to Britain stood to be returned to their country of origin if they had entered that country illegally.
Students face mass deportation (The Star, 17/06) - Hundreds of young South Africans could be sent home after the arrest of 20 people in England in connection with an immigration scam. Detective Chief Inspector Steven Kupis, who led yesterday's operation in London, said of the more than 1 000 people who had come to the UK using fraudulently-obtained student visas, most were South African, both black and white. "They stand to be returned to their country of origin if they are here illegally," Kupis said. "These people are victims. They have given up money, sometimes unknowingly, to these people purporting to be agents. "While more than 120 officers from the London Metropolitan Police specialist crime directorate swooped on 12 addresses across London and adjoining Essex, including two suspected bogus colleges, the South African Police Service's crime intelligence division swooped on several houses in Durban. Yesterday's raids were aimed at a huge immigration racket estimated to have brought about 1 000 people to London and earned the perpetrators at least £1-million (R11,7-million).The arrested suspects were detained on suspicion of helping people illegally enter and remain in the UK, and money-laundering. The operation was the largest yet carried out by the Metropolitan Police under the banner of Operation Maxim, an initiative to tackle organised immigration crime, and was timed to coincide with the operation by the SAPS. SAPS national police spokesperson director Sally de Beer has confirmed that the crime intelligence division swooped on several houses in Durban after identifying the UK syndicate's South African assets. De Beer said SAPS crime intelligence had been working with UK police for five months. According to London police, the network behind the racket has been under investigation for more than a year, but detectives believe it may have been operating for several years. It allegedly provided mainly South African nationals with fake student visas, either by using counterfeit immigration stamps and false documents or by registering them at bogus colleges. It is believed that those targeted by the scheme each paid about £150 (R1 755) for a visa valid for between six months and three years. SA Home Affairs spokesperson Leslie Mashokwe said it was suspected that Home Affairs officials were the brains behind the scam.
SA refugees under spotlight (Sapa, 17/06) - A World Refugee Day programme on Saturday will highlight the achievements and difficulties faced by refugees and asylum seekers, the National Consortium for Refugee Affairs said on Thursday. "The main event will be held in Cape Town as part of a commemoration to showcase, highlight and reflect on the refugee situation worldwide," said NCRA national co-ordinator, Joyce Ntlou. There are approximately 152 000 refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa. The main event will be held in conjunction with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the City of Cape Town. Ntlou said the programme would look at the root causes and "myriad problems" facing refugees, who had been uprooted and displaced to other countries. The NCRA is a network of organisations dealing with the promotion and protection of refugee rights in South Africa. Ntlou said the national programme would also concentrate on the achievements of refugees in rebuilding the lives. The majority of refugees and asylum seekers in South Africa, post-1994, came mostly from strife-torn countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and until recently Angola. Asked whether xenophobia was increasing or decreasing, Ntlou said there was no scientific evidence to support either contention. However, she said, xenophobia was an "attitudinal problem" which needed constant work in educating people. "The issue of refugees is important to highlight at this particular juncture... (because) it relates to human beings like you and me," she said. Ntlou said there did seem to be improvements, citing as an example the media and their reporting on the issue of refugees — which according to her was now "more objective and more accurate". The theme of this year's World Refugee Day is "Home in exile, rebuilding refugee lives". United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Ruud Lubbers said the organisation had helped repatriate about 50 million refugees to their homelands over the past few decades. "Refugees desperately want to go back home — a sentiment we have seen dramatically played out time and again in places as diverse as Kosovo and Cambodia, Mozambique and Timor-Leste." According to the UNHCR a total of 1.1 million refugees went home last year, with the single biggest group, some 646 000 people, returning to Afghanistan. The UNHCR has identified nine African nations where repatriation is already under way, about to start, or where there are good prospects for return in the near future. Between them, these nine countries account for at least two million refugees and millions more internally displaced.
SA hit by misuse of refugee14 status (The Star, 16/06) - Corruption and the abuse of refugee status by thousands of "refugees" in South Africa is costing the country millions of rands in lost skills and revenue. This was revealed during a visit to Limpopo yesterday by the UN High commissioner for Refugees and the Home Affairs Department ahead of World Refugee Day on Sunday. More than 40,000 former Mozambican refugees and their families, who were among the 320,000 people who fled Mozambique and came to South Africa during that country's civil war, settled in the Bushbuckridge area during the mid-80s. Of the 320,000 Mozambican refugees who fled to South Africa, only 31,000 have been officially repatriated, with nearly 180,000 becoming permanent residents. The permanent resident applications of an estimated 32000 former refugees are still pending - and this, claim Department of Home Affairs sources, is where the corruption come in. During a visit to Dushbuckridge, several successful Mozambican businessmen, whose South African permanent residency is still pending and who are allegedly exploiting their refugee status, were discovered. One former Mozambican refugee, who owns a vehicle repair workshop in the Welverdiend area of Bushbuckridge, admitted that he owned a 1500 hectare farm in Mozambique. The man, whose name in known to this newspaper, employs 27 South Africans in his workshop. He said he took home to Mozambique the money that he made with his business to support his family there. He told reporters that because he and other Mozambican families had not been able to get social grants for their children, despite the recent constitutional Court ruling that all permanent immigrants were eligible for social grants, they sent their children with their South African neighbours when they (the South Africans) collect their grants. However, not all former Mozambican refugees are pleased with what their fellow countrymen are doing. A Home Affairs source, who works on the department's refugee affairs desk, said the abuse of refugees status by so called refugees and corrupt officials was rife. Home Affairs spokesperson Lesley Mashokwe said the department was working with all the relevant authorities to eliminate corruption.
False passports gang busted (Business Day, 16/06) - Police have broken up a Chinese gang manufacturing false "seaman's passports" in a suburb near Johannesburg International Airport, a spokesman said. Officers from the Sebenza station earlier in the day followed up information about false seamen's books being printed and distributed from a hotel room in Croydon in the North Rand policing area. "The police officers pounced just before noon and seized computers, printers, official seals and a number of false so-called seaman's books," spokesman Superintendent Eugene Opperman said. Two Chinese men and a woman were arrested. "Dozens of photos of Chinese subjects were also seized," Opperman added. Four seamen's books were also found in the room, each bearing the photo of the arrested woman - and each with a different name. Preliminary investigations suggest that this woman had "married" at least two South African men. Documentation in this regard appears to have been falsified, Opperman said. Investigators also seized R65,OOO in cash moments. Opperman said the seaman's books look very similar to passports. "It is usually issued to seamen who visit the ports of a country, and it can also be used as such (as a passport) under certain circumstances. People carrying such books can enter and leave a country by producing this 'seaman's book' at any harbour. "This also under certain circumstances allows the bearer to move around freely in the country as a 'visiting seaman'. Naturally it can also be used as an identification document," Opperman said. He added that the North Rand crime intelligence unit was profiling the three and also the gang's activities. "Investigations are continuing. The three suspects will appear in court on Thursday on charges of fraud and certain sections of our immigration laws."
Arrest in London over SA visa scam (Daily News, 16/06) - Sixteen people were arrested today in dawn raids targeting an immigration scam that brought more than 1 000 people, mainly South Africans, into Britain using fraudulently obtained student visas. More than 120 officers from the Metropolitan Police specialist crime directorate swooped on 12 addresses across London and in adjoining Essex, including two suspected bogus colleges in Tooting, south London. The raids were aimed at a huge immigration racket estimated to have brought more than 1 000 people to London and earned the perpetrators millions of pounds. The 16 arrested suspects - six of them women - were detained on suspicion of offences relating to facilitating illegal entry and leave to remain in Britain, as well as money-laundering. They were taken to various London police stations for questioning. Among them was a Zimbabwean-born naturalised Briton in his 40s. The operation was the largest yet to be carried out by the Metropolitan Police under the banner of Operation Maxim, an initiative to tackle organised immigration crime. They were timed to coincide with an operation in Durban today where police officers were expected to visit at least one address. South African Police Services said they knew nothing of the operation, but noted that it was probably being conducted by Immigration Services officials of the Home Affairs Department. No-one at Home Affairs was available to comment. The network behind the suspected racket has been under investigation for more than a year, but detectives believe it may have been operating for several years. It allegedly provided mainly South African nationals with fraudulently obtained student visas, either by using counterfeit immigration stamps and false documents, or by registering them at bogus colleges. More than 1 000 people are thought to have been brought to or allowed to stay in Britain as a result of the scam, with each paying several hundred pounds to get a student visa for between six months and three years. The suspected ringleaders are thought to have made at least £1 million from the racket. A financial investigation is under way in a bid to recover any criminal assets. Detective Chief Inspector Steven Kupis, who led today's operation in London, said those who had come to Britain under the scam were mainly South African, both black and white. "They stand to be returned to their country of origin if they are here illegally," he said. "It is a matter for the Immigration Service and we are progressing with that." "These people are victims. They have given up money, sometimes unknowingly, to these people purporting to be agents," Kupis added. "They are losing not only their money, but their right to be in this country."
Nine in court over Freedom Park violence (SABC News, 15/06) - Nine people today briefly appeared in the Tlhabane Magistrate's Court near Rustenburg, in the North West, on charges of public violence. Their appearance follows the killing of two people and the burning of property at Freedom Park informal settlement in violence associated with ethnic clashes between the Xhosa and Mozambican Tsonga-speaking people. The case against the men, who are facing charges of murder, arson and public violence, have been postponed to Thursday next week. They were not asked to plead and were remanded in custody pending legal aid application. Their charges stem from a wave of violence that swept through Freedom Park squatter settlement in Rustenburg three weeks ago, leaving two people dead and several homes burnt to ashes, with damages running into several thousands of rands. In another incident, 29 people were arrested last week following another outbreak of violence at the nearby KwaZakhele squatter settlement. In the latest development, peace in the area was done a serious blow after the Xhosa faction decided to bar the Tsonga, who fled the areas during clashes, from returning. Police have distanced themselves from the resolution. Maureen Modiselle, the North West safety and security MEC, has, nonetheless, warned against such action, saying it does not promote peace in the trouble torn area.
Mozambican refugees in South Africa (Cape Times, 15/06) - Corruption and abuse of refugee status by thousands of "refugees" in South Africa is costing the country millions of rands in lost skills and revenue. This was revealed during a visit to Limpopo Province by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Home Affairs ahead of World Refugee day on Sunday. Of the 320 000 people who fled to SA during Mozambique's civil war in the mid-1980s, over 40 000 refugees and their families settled in the former Gazankulu homeland, now Bushbuck Ridge. Only 31 000 of the 320 000 have been officially repatriated and nearly 180 000 are now permanent residents. The permanent resident applications of an estimated 32 000 former refugees are still pending and this, claim Home Affairs sources, is where the corruption comes in. In Bushbuck Ridge, several successful Mozambican businessmen, whose permanent residency is still pending and who are allegedly exploiting their refugee status, were discovered. Speaking to the Cape Times, one former refugee, who owns a motor mechanic workshop in the area, admitted he owned a 1 500ha farm in Mozambique. "But I am doing nothing wrong," he said, explaining how he by-passed the Mozambique-SA border posts by crossing through the Kruger National Park. The man, who employs 27 South Africans, said he used the money he made in SA to support his family in Mozambique. He said because he and other Mozambican families had been unable to get social grants for their children - despite a Constitutional Court ruling that all permanent immigrants be eligible for social grants - they sent their children with their SA neighbours when they collected their grants. "This money we either use to support our families here or send it back home to our relatives," he said. But not all former Mozambican refugees are pleased with what their countrymen are doing. Former Mozambican Sebastiao Passe Sibuyi said so-called "successful" businessmen were doing more harm than good to the refugee communities in SA. "It is because of their corrupt actions that we (Mozambicans) battle to receive social grants from the SA government. "These people, who still claim to be refugees and continue to live in SA, take the skills they learn here and go back to Mozambique where they set up shops and big farms and earn lots of money," he said. A Home Affairs source, who works on the Refugee Affairs Desk, said refugees worked with syndicates which bribed officials to arranging permanent SA residencies and passports. This allowed the refugees entry and egress. Police are investigating.
Home Affairs set for turnaround (Dispatch, 15/06) - Home Affairs director-general Barry Gilder is planning a purge in the department because this is what happens "when conditions become so bad that ordinary people can no longer take it". "We can no longer take the corruption, the poor service delivery, the atrocious state of our offices, the ancientness of our IT systems, the illegal immigration into our country, the duping of our women into fake marriages, the fraudulent acquisition of citizenship, the low morale of our staff, the exhausting shortages of people, equipment, infrastructure and funds." Writing in the preface to the department's Strategic Plan for 2004/5 to 2005/7, Gilder states that the document plots "our revolution" or turnaround strategy. "This turnaround strategy seeks to introduce momentum, energy, determination and sheer guts into our strategic planning for the year and the years ahead. "It bald-facedly acknowledges the critical challenges facing us and identifies key intervention areas to address these challenges." While the department did not deliver houses or healthcare, it was nevertheless critical to the government's programme to create a better life for all. "The Department of Home Affairs confirms the status of people. It provides people with the enabling documentation that allows them to access the houses, the jobs, the healthcare and the social grants. "It facilitates the entry of scarce skills and investment and tourists into our country to build the economy that will allow government to make life better for our people. "It ensures that people who with to visit, sojourn and work in our country do so legally and in pursuance of our national goals. It ensures that criminals, the terrorists, the drug-peddlers, the people-traffickers are prevented from subverting our new-found and hard-won democracy." With regard to the state of security in Home Affairs the strategic plan says this is "dismal physical security, information security, IT security and personnel security". The Strategic Plan states that the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has completed an assessment of the main causes of corruption in the department and "the interventions needed to tackle it decisively". The department is now in the process of "translating this assessment into a concrete counter-corruption operational plan". The plan states that the department is dealing with two types of corruption" syndicated corruption and convenience corruption". "There is no doubt that the department is a prime target of organised crime syndicates and other criminals, because we provide them with an essential service, the enabling documentation that allows them to establish themselves and to carry out their criminal activities inside the country and across our borders." Looking at interventions aimed at addressing the situation, the plan states a -counter-corruption plan will be approved by July 1 and corruption reporting and policies and mechanisms introduced by November.
New twist in North West conflicts (SABC News, 14/06) - The future of Mozambicans living at the KwaZakhele informal settlement who fled the strife torn area hangs in the balance. A resident's meeting attended by hundreds of Xhosa families has resolved not to welcome them back to their area. For a week now, KwaZakhele has been tense following the rape of an 8 year old Xhosa girl allegedly by a Mozambican. This resulted in the burning of property belonging to the Mozambican who have now sought refuge at nearby Mfidikwe village Anglican Church. Angered by what they believe is sloppy reaction by police to the rape incident. A group of Xhosa youth began to storm shacks belonging to Mozambicans. In the process destroying 40 with fire and burning more than 10 cars. Not a single Xhosa participant showed sympathy nor agreed with a request that all the Mozambicans who fled be welcomed back to the settlement. Lutshete Madoda, a Xhosa community spokesperson, said: "The community has decided to abolish all the Mozambicans who are not working the only people who are accepted by the Xhosa are those who are staying at the hostel who are working." It's now a week since the Mozambicans fled their homes. Many as a result of violence have lost their identity and works permit in South Africa. Isaac Mangike, a Mozambican spokesperson, says the only proposal they now have is for the government to make a decision as to where they should stay not the Xhosa. A meeting to finally agree on a proposal that only the Mozambicans employed by the local mines may be welcomed back is scheduled for the end of the week. The 29 other Xhosa charged with public violence, arson and damage to property are to re-appear before the Phokeng Regional court in Rustenburg on Thursday.
North West government shocked at xenophobic meeting (Sapa, 14/06) - A weekend meeting at the troubled Zakhele informal settlement where ethnic conflict cost two lives and saw 50 shacks caused grave concern to the North West Safety and Liaison department. According to a press statement issued on Monday, the department received information that a meeting among the Xhosa-speaking community declared that "all unemployed and undocumented songa-speaking (Mozambican) people must not be allowed back "This gathering was not arranged by any formal governor structure and therefore its purported declarations are to anyone," said Safety and Liaison MEC Maureen Modise: The statement said that neither the Rustenburg Municipal the government would endorse such a declaration "with ( xenophobic tendencies. "It does not provide any solution to the current situation. "It must also be stated that this is not a popular vie1 the Xhosa group, rather a view held by a few individual. hell-bent on fuelling violence." Residents of Mozambican origin fled the area at the outbreak violence a week ago. After a four hour meeting on Sunday, Xhosa residents s they were not willing to live with people "who aren't "who aren't South African citizens". The meeting was monitored by the police and the South National Defence Force. Modiselle said police would maintain a presence in the area until the situation had normalised.
Foreigners arrested in drug bust (Mail&Guardian, 14/06) - Mpumalanga police rounded up a gang of foreign drug dealers plying narcotics at local night spots in a major operation on Saturday morning, police said. Spokesperson Superintendent Izak van Zyl said police, assisted by soldiers and officials from the departments of justice, health and home affairs, arrested 22 foreign nationals for dealing in drugs, arrested a further 19 people for being in the country illegally, tested 34 people for using illegal drugs and returned six underage children found in nightclubs to their parents. The police team probing the gang included detectives from the Lowveld Organised Crime and Crime Intelligence units. Van Zyl said they concentrated their investigations on Nelspruit and the surrounding towns of Sabie, Hazyview and Lydenburg. The team, under the command of Senior Superintendent Faan Steenkamp, started arresting syndicate members on Friday morning, after having had them under investigation since November last year. The operation, which ended early on Saturday morning, included the cordoning off and search of the Personalities night club in Anderson Street, Nelspruit, and two buildings in the same street used by nationals from Pakistan, Nigeria, Burundi, Tanzania, Somalia and Mozambique. "About 300 members of the National Intervention Unit of the police, the Lowveld Dog Unit, Organised Crime units from all over Mpumalanga province, the National Prosecution Authority, the police air wing, the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Health, the SANDF [South African National Defence Force] and local police took part in the operation," Van Zyl said. Detectives seized illegal substances including cocaine, mandrax, Ecstasy and LSD with a total street value of more than R200 000. Nineteen "undocumented migrants" from Nigeria, Burundi, Pakistan, Mozambique and Tanzania were arrested and "will be dealt with by the Department of Home Affairs". Thirty-four people were identified as possible drug users and were taken to the Rob Ferreira hospital for blood samples. "The samples are packaged and will be send to the police's forensic science laboratory for confirmation of the suspicion," Van Zyl added. Six under-aged children found in the nightclub were returned to their parents. "Some of them were also subjected to urinal or blood testing." The owner of the club will be charged under the Liquor Act for allowing under-aged children to enter restricted premises. "This operation was very well coordinated, with the full assistance from the National Prosecution Authority," police provincial Commissioner Eric Nkabinde added in a statement."I applaud all the departments involved in the operation. This is indeed demonstration of force. We shall continue to do so until such time that crime is under control," Nkabinde said.
Integration of Mozambican refugees a success (SABC News, 12/06) - The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says the successful integration of Mozambican refugees with the Bushbuckridge community in Limpopo is one of many success stories of South Africa's 10 years of democracy. After voluntary repatriations in 1993, research by the Wits Forced Migration Study Programmes states that over 30 000 left and others were later granted amnesty, Twenty years later, they are still in the country. "Home in exile" is how 76-year-old Cecilia Makhubela feels. Like many Mozambicans, Makhubela fled her war-torn country in the mid-80s and decided to stay on at Hluvukani village. She received a pension grant but this stopped after the abolishment of the homelands. It was only reinstated last year. Over the years her refugee status has changed. The South African Cabinet granted amnesty and together with Mozambique and the UNHCR ended the formal refugee status in 1996. Melita Sunjic, of the UNHCR, said: "We think that it is really proof that if there is good will on the side of the local population and government is willing to help refugees then it is quite easy to integrate people."
Expats create new publishing market (Business Day, 11/06) - Globalisation and the escalation of the expatriate phenomenon have spawned a new genre of media the "expat papers" or "expat e-zines". Go online and you will find "dotcom" extensions for Australian, British, Bulgarian, Iranian, Spanish and South African expatriates and a great many more. The further you go, it seems, the tighter the motherland's media strings become. One expatriate paper you will not find on the web is the recently launched FS African Standard, a monthly tabloid for the ever expanding expatriate communities of west Africa living in SA. "Our target market has limited access to the internet and a huge tradition of reading newspapers," says Sharon Stocks, whose Gauteng-based company Africa @Work manages the newspaper's editorial activities and distribution in SA for Nigerian publisher Millennium Harvest. "There are 15 daily newspapers in circulation in Nigeria. In some towns, informal street businesses rent out newspapers by the hour. The literacy rate is high and Nigerians are great readers." While it is published primarily for the estimated 100000 west Africans living in SA, Stocks says the FS African Standard is also an information source for South African companies that do, or wish to do, business in west Africa. There is also limited distribution of the publication in Nigeria, and the publisher plans to extend this to other English speaking west African countries. Most of the newspaper's reports are written by Nigerian journalists who also work on the Financial Standard, Millennium Harvest's weekly Lagos-based business publication. Dianna Games, of Africa @Work, is the SA-based correspondent. Editorial focuses primarily on business and political issues. This, says Stocks, is based on readership research. "Many of our readers have university degrees and most are particularly interested in political and business developments in their homelands. It is also the kind of information that is valuable to South African businesses." Millennium Publishers chairwoman Eniola Fadayomi says the idea for the publication stemmed from her many visits to SA. "I could see that South Africans had limited knowledge of what was happening in other parts of Africa. "Yet there were moves towards greater integration of SA into the rest of Africa through various political initiatives," says Fadayomi. "With the information revolution, the world is becoming a much smaller place, and what we have to consider in terms of this is that it is no longer a question of an Africa-Europe axis. "It is a question of what we can do within Africa, between countries," she says. Fadayomi hopes the paper will help to create greater understanding between Africans. Five thousand copies of the first commercial edition, printed by the Natal Witness, went on sale at R13,50 a copy last month in CNA and Exclusive Books following a complimentary issue that circulated in the market during April. "In addition to the newsstand sales, we distribute bulk quantities into west African communities in various centres in SA and these are sold on informally. "Although I cannot give you number as yet, I can say we have had very positive subscription inquiries and are pleased with the response to the paper," says Stocks. Ghana and Nigeria were selected as target countries for the first phase of the product because of expatriate numbers in SA. According to Stocks, officially registered Nigerians number about 4000. Unofficially, the population is estimated up to 50000. The officially registered number of Ghanaians in the country is also 4000 and, unofficially, it too is estimated to be substantially higher. Nigeria, Ghana and SA have recorded significant growth in trade in the past few years. According to Stocks, Nigeria's exports to SA have grown from about $5,6m in 1996 to about $441m in 2001, while exports from SA to Nigeria have risen from $27m to $220m over the same period. SA is ranked as Ghana's second-largest African trading partner. Last year SA's exports to Ghana amounted to R1bn while its imports from Ghana were R52,4m. Stocks says advertisers are beginning to show interest in FS African Standard. The June edition, scheduled for sale this week, contains the first advertising from a South African business. "Most of our business, for almost 32 years, has come from visitors and expatriates from other African countries," says Faeez Moosa of Khaliques Suit Centre at Village Walk in Johannesburg. "When I heard about the newspaper, I thought it would be a great way to promote the shop to our target market. "There are not many opportunities to advertise to this sector and I look forward to seeing what the response is," says Moosa.
Home Affairs to improve service delivery (BuaNews, 11/07) - The Home Affairs Department is to conduct an audit of its infrastructure needs to improve conditions for people in need of its services. Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula made the announcement during her budget vote in Parliament today. The minister said most Home Affairs offices were located in towns and urban areas, which made it difficult for those in rural areas to access services. "This means that people in rural areas and informal settlements travel long distances, wait in long queues and use money they normally do not have to receive services from our department," she said. In this regard, R14.6 million had been allocated for mobile units that would be ready for use by end of this year. Minister Mapisa-Nqakula said the department would also ensure that "red tape" in the processing of applications for residence permits by refugees was reduced. She said this resulted in people not in need of "protection and hospitality" being able to stay in the country because applications took time to be processed. "The sooner we shorten the time for processing applications and deal with the current backlog of applications the better it will be for service delivery and our country's security," she said. She said government also intended to deal harshly with those who undermined the borders and security of the country by entering illegally. "We are aware of some of the applicants that are being frustrated when they renew their permits and we are addressing our capacity to improve this aspect. "But it is still no excuse to go underground and live in this country illegally because when we catch these people, the law will have to take its cause," she added. The Minister also announced that a community volunteer campaign would be launched to clean its offices in all provinces.
Immigration regulations to be finalized (Sapa, 11/06) - Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Friday again repeated her intention to finalise the long-awaited Immigration Actions by August this year, saying she would seek Cabinet approval to table legislative amendments in Parliament. "We have agreed that in order to resolve some of the problems within the current regulations, we need to make certain changes to act itself." Opening debate on her department's budget vote in an extended public committee of the National Assembly, she said the department was looking at only effecting those amendments that are necessary". This was to meet the three-month deadline laid down by President Mbeki in his May state-of-the-nation address. For us it is urgent that South Africa should have an immigration policy regime that is responsive to the needs of the country in the area of attracting direct foreign investment, encourage tourism, and contribute to economic growth through the attraction of skills." Mapisa-Nqakula said while it was necessary to protect local jobs, "it will also be important that our immigration policy should not hinder our contribution to the improvement of socio-economic ions of our neighbouring countries". This would require a delicate balancing act. But obviously we need to find a way of addressing this in such that we will not suddenly wake up one morning and have to all the mining workers that work in our mines from Lesotho and Mozambique, " she said. Earlier this week, Mapisa-Nqakula said amendments to the Immigration Act would go before Cabinet on June 23, "and we are hoping that Cabinet will give us the go ahead to go before parliament on the 24th (of June)".
Planned crackdown on illegal immigrants (SABC News, 11/06) - Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the home affairs minister, says the government will deal harshly with people who illegally sneak into South Africa endangering the security of the country, Maphisa-Nqakula said in Parliament that South Africa is faced with the difficulty of assisting foreigners who need protection while maintaining the country's security. She said measures have already been taken to remove the red tape that has led to delays in dealing with immigration applications, This red tape, she said, has enabled people who should not be in the country to stay long as their applications have taken unnecessarily long to be processed. "It is not acceptable that our offices should remain the greatest source of frustration for the people who come to us for a variety of services," Mapisa-Nqakula said, Mapisa-Nqakula said her department will also deal with fraudulent marriages. Women, she said, will be able to verify their marital status and ensure that every child has a birth certificate, They will also try to ensure that services get to the people, especially in rural areas. All parties have welcomed the proposals.
Rustenburgers agree on steps to prevent ethnic clashes (SABC News, 10/06) - Groups interested in preventing a recurrence of ethnic violence in informal settlements around Rustenburg have agreed on a number of ways to achieve this. Maureen Modiselle, North West safety and liaison MEC, said today that a meeting held at the town's traffic department agreed that the use of violence, regardless of cause and source had to be condemned. The parties further agreed to do all within their power "to ensure that conditions of peace and stability prevail in the affected areas". The meeting followed a week of clashes between Mozambicans and South Africans at Zakhele and Freedom Park near Rustenburg, in which two people were killed, four injured and more than 50 shacks razed. Twenty-six people appeared before a Rustenburg magistrate yesterday on a charge of public violence in connection with the fighting. They will next appear in court on June 17. Although Modiselle's statement did not say who attended the meeting, it had been advertised that Impala Platinum Mines, the Royal Bafokeng Administration, the police and the Rustenburg and Bajanala municipalities would attend. The local branch of the SA Council of Churches, the National Union of Mineworkers, ward councillors from the affected areas, leaders of both the communities, representatives from both communities in the House of Traditional Leaders, local church leaders and the SA Human Rights Commission were also expected to be present. Further steps agreed to included the pledging of support to victims of the violence, including the provision of food, blankets, clothing and shelter. The parties also agreed to support the Rustenburg Urban Renewal Project, to hold workshops on conflict resolution and mobilise people against "all forms of discrimination". The police undertook to maintain high visibility patrols in the area while the Rustenburg municipality promised to identify vacant houses for allocation to those left homeless by the clashes. The Department of Developmental Local Government and Housing pledged to engage the mining houses and unions on linking housing allowances with government subsidies. Victims would be registered to ensure those who lost property such as travel, identity and residence documents could be assisted. Another meeting was scheduled for June 29 to monitor progress.
Home affairs a leader in corruption, says minister (This Day, 09/06) - The alleged members of al-Qaeda who were arrested with copies of South African passports must have bought the documents from corrupt homes affairs officials, Home Affairs Minister Nosoviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said yesterday. Last month police commissioner Jackie Selebi said the arrests made in South Africa five days before the April elections had led to the capture of al-Qaeda suspects internationally. "As part of this operation the British police found boxes of South African passports in the home of one of these people." Selebi told parliament's portfolio committee on safety and security. Yesterday Mapisa-Nqakula told MPs: "A few weeks ago members of al-Qaeda were arrested with our passports. A member of the department must have sold them those passports. It must have been a syndicate.. we are trying to break these syndicates. "We are working with safety and security, the police and the Scorpions to rid the department of these syndicates." She confirmed there was corruption in her department of home affairs is the leading department in corruption. "If there is an illegal immigrant scam of a marriage scam, then the department is involved," she said. "You read every month about the arrests going on ... we are doing something about it." She said most arrests were a result of investigations started by the department's anti-corruption unit.
Government clips immigration body's wings (Business Day, 09/06) - The Immigration Advisory Board's wings are to be clipped as part of a major government revamp of immigration regulations. Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said yesterday that executive powers given to the board had been a major source of contention while drafting new regulations in line with the Immigration Act. The board has the power to override decisions taken by the home affairs department's director-general, and this has been a major source of contention in the cabinet. Mapisa-Nqakula told Parliament's portfolio committee on home affairs yesterday that the board had been given executive powers in the regulations that should have been the department's prerogative. The board, established in 2001 by former home affairs minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, was at the centre of a four-year battle between the home affairs ministry and the cabinet. Buthelezi drew up regulations for the Immigration Act in consultation with the board, on which business, labour and civil society was represented. He published the regulations in February, while they were still being discussed by the cabinet. President Thabo Mbeki then took Buthelezi to court to declare the regulations invalid, and won the case. Buthelezi lost his position in the cabinet after the national elections in April this year. Mapisa-Nqakula said a meeting would be held with the board to thrash out the fact that the act did not give the current board executive powers, while the regulations did. She said the act had all along intended that the board advise the minister. Mbeki, in his state of the nation address last month, gave the department three months to produce new regulations. But it now appears that for the regulations to align with the act, the act would have to be amended by Parliament. Mapisa-Nqakula said a cabinet committee met yesterday to review the issue and the process was "on a tight schedule", to ensure that amendments to the legislation were passed before the end of August. The cabinet committee had given a technical committee, that state legal advisers and departmental personnel, until June 15 to identify issues in the regulations and legislation which needed attention. Mapisa-Nqakula said the cabinet committee would then review the regulations and proposed amendments that are expected to be presented to cabinet on June 23, and Parliament the following day. The portfolio committee would then debate the amendments and regulations in July and a public participation process would run concurrently. She said the immediate exercise was to solve the "current problem" and if there was a need to overhaul the Act, "we can look at it again later". Mapisa-Nqakula said SA was experiencing "serious problems" by not having regulations in place to ensure that airports and borders were secure and that the refugee question was adequately addressed. She said government was trying to achieve an immigration policy that was "responsive to the needs of the country". It should assist in attracting foreign investment and skills, and encourage tourism.
Mozambique speaks out on clashes (SABC News, 09/06) - The Mozambican government today expressed great concern about the position of its nationals who are been affected by the on-going violence at Rustenburg's two strife torn squatter settlements of Freedom Park and Kwa-Zakhele. The violence broke out following the impasse between Xhosa and Mozambican nationals during the past two weeks leaving two people dead and scores injured. Jose Manea, the Mozambican Consul in South Africa, accompanied by Maureen Modiselle, the Northwest MEC for Safety and Liaison, today paid a visit to the trouble torn area to get first hand information. Of great concern to the Mozambican government is its citizens' damaged property, especially their identity documents. Manea says the non-availability of their identity documents might impact negatively on their presence in South Africa. In response the Northwest government is convening an urgent meeting with all stakeholders including officials from the department of home affairs to assist in the processing of new documents. Meanwhile, 35 people today appeared in Tlhabane regional court in Rustenburg following the unrests. Their charges include public violence, murder, arson, theft and damage to property. The KwaZakhele group of 26 appeared briefly in court and their case has been postponed to Thursday next week. They will remain in custody pending further police investigation. The Freedom Park group of nine accused which allegedly sparked the first tribal clashes about two weeks ago, also appeared in court at the same time. Their case has also been postponed to Tuesday. They too have been remanded into custody awaiting further police investigations. There is a strong police presence in the area and there are fears that the violence might escalate into other adjacent settlements.
Thirty five appear in Rustenburg court (SABC News, 09/06) - Thirty-five suspects have appeared in the Tlhabane Regional Court in Rustenburg following the past few days of unrests at Freedom Park and Kwa-Zakhele mining settlements at the town. Twenty-six of them were allegedly involved in violence at Kwa-Zakhele, while the others are from Freedom Park. Violence broke out following an impasse between South Africans and Mozambicans during the past two weeks. The charges include public violence, murder, arson, theft and damage to property. The suspects will remain in custody pending further police investigation. Two people died and scores have been injured in the recent storm of violence. There is a strong police presence in the area and there are fears that the violence might spill over into other adjacent settlements.
We're not criminals, protest Nigerians ( Cape Argus, 09/06) - This was the message from a group of Nigerian businessmen who stood in the rain in front of the Cape Town Magistrate's Court yesterday. Armed with placards, their protest action was to oppose bail for four of their countrymen who are facing charges of murder, attempted murder, abduction, hijacking, armed robberies, serious assault and burglaries committed in different parts of the country. Some of the protesters are restaurant and shop-owners, or own other businesses in and around the city, and about 10 of the 20 protesters are allegedly victims of crimes committed by the four accused. Tomorrow another five Nigerians will be added to the charge sheet. In addition, Detective Lionel "Corné" Cornellissen, of the Western Cape police serious violent crimes unit, will be fetching another Nigerian from Diepkloof Prison in Johannesburg later this week to stand trial in Cape Town. This man - who will be charged with 25 of the 40 charges - will appear with the nine others at a later date. Businessman Austin Ijezie, 37, a spokesman for his fellow protesters, said: "Nigerians are always being portrayed in the media as negative, bad people. Today we are taking it upon ourselves to say (the accused) are a handful of bad boys. "We are opposing bail for them, because they are giving us a bad name. We want the courts to give them maximum sentences. "We are taking this opportunity to create an awareness that not all Nigerians are criminals. "We accept that the investigating officer, Detective Cornellissen, is doing his best and has planned to interview all the complainants, but we want the courts and the public to take note of our protest and concerns." Yesterday Emmanuel Obiwuru, 25, and Sylvester Chio Nwude, 22, of Observatory, Lawrence Abako Daniel, 28, of Mandalay and Denis Ndubueze Ikezi, 32, of Sea Point appeared in connection with more than 10 of the charges. Yesterday state prosecutor Vukile Mgobhozi told magistrate Joe Magele that the other charges and another five men would be added to the charge sheet tomorrow. Some of the hijackings, armed robberies and a murder were committed in Johannesburg and Durban. The other crimes were committed in the city centre, Sea Point and Milnerton areas. Ikezi, represented by city attorney Milton de la Haye, is the only one of the accused who has an attorney. The others told Magele that they would conduct their own defence. If they get bail, Ijezie said, "our lives are in danger". "They are dangerous." He said other Nigerians had been victims of the gang's crime spree, but were too afraid to attend court yesterday. According to a police statement, Cornellissen investigated the four men shortly after they were arrested on May 15 in Milnerton, where they were found sitting in a vehicle allegedly in possession of two unlicensed firearms and ammunition. Over a three-week period, Cornellissen used their fingerprints and uncovered scores of violent crime cases.
Gulf states lure South African workers (Daily News, 09/06) - More than 5 000 South Africans are working in the Gulf states and local recruitment agencies are struggling to keep up with demand. The recent attack in Khobar in Saudi Arabia, in which 22 people - including a South African - were killed is unlikely to affect recruitment for very long. Carroll-Anne Pollock, operations manager of PAG, says her organisation has so far this year placed about 30 people in jobs in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar, and has more vacancies to fill. "There is a demand for technical skills, particularly from the big oil companies," she says. "We have had requests for mechanical, chemical and civil engineers, instrumentation technicians and IT experts. They also need financial experts, auditors, accountants and financial controllers." Foreign workers are generally given two or three-year contracts, but are paid in US dollars and enjoy excellent benefits. "Salaries are often tax-free, they receive free housing and medical care, a transport allowance, free schooling for their children and, in some cases, even air tickets to come back to South Africa for a visit halfway through the contract," she says. Pollock says that although the life-style in the less-progressive Muslim countries is relatively restricted, they have had few cases of South Africans returning home before the end of their contracts. Theresa Gibson, of People Placements International, an agency specialising in medical personnel, says: "The medical profession in the oil-rich countries of the region is just about completely run by expatriates." The custom in Muslim countries is that women do not work, so there is an obvious need for nurses, but also a shortage in areas such as radiography, physiotherapy and medical technology - all professions where women predominate. "South Africans, along with Australians, New Zealanders, Americans and people from the UK, can be found in most of the hospitals and medical facilities," Gibson says. And there is no shortage of these facilities, with plenty of the oil wealth being spent on state-of-the art hospitals and cutting-edge technology. People Placements Inter-national has sent about 250 South Africans to the region in the past two years. Not all have been medical - they also supply security, technical and IT workers. Gibson says South Africans are particularly sought-after. "South Africans are capable of multi-tasking and get the work done, even if it means doing things outside their area of specialisation." Gibson believes most South Africans are lured by the pay and benefits. "In the medical profession there you do not really learn anything that you could not have at home. The salaries are, however, well above what a nurse, for example, would get at home and then there are the benefits of no tax, free housing and medical care." The Khobar attack has affected Gibson's business - a recruitment visit by a Saudi hospital this month has been postponed - but she is confident that things will return to normal soon. "I was working there during the September 11 tragedy and we never really felt unsafe." The oil wealth has brought rapid development to the region, but development of skills has not kept pace. So, it seems, South Africans will continue to be lured by fabulous job offers.
Professionals flocking to the Gulf states (The Star, 08/06) - More than 5,000 South Africans are working in the Gulf states and local recruitment agencies are struggling to keep up with demand. The recent attack in Khobar in Saudi Arabia, in which 22 people - including a South African - were killed in unlikely to affect recruitment for very long. Carall-Anne Pollock, operations manager of PAG, says her organisation has so far this year placed about 30 people in jobs in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar, and has more vacancies to fill. "There is a demand for technical skills, particularly from the big oil companies," she says, "We have had requests for mechanical, chemical and civil engineers, instrumentation technicians and IT experts. They also need financial experts, auditors, accountants and financial controllers. Foreign workers are generally given two or three-year contracts but are paid in US dollars and enjoy excellent benefits. "Salaries are often tax-free, they receive free housing and medical care, a transport allowance, free schooling for their children and in some cases even air tickets to come back to South Africa for a visit halfway through the contract," she says. Pollock says that, although the lifestyle in the less-progressive Muslim countries is relatively restricted, they have had few cases of South Africans returning home before the end of their countries. Theresa Gibson of People Placements International, an agency specialising in medical personnel, says: "The medical profession in the oil-rich countries of the region are just about completely run by expatriates." The custom in Muslim countries is that women do not work, so there is an obvious need for nurses, but also a shortage in areas such as radiography, physiotherapy and medical technology - all professions where women predominate. "South Africans, along with Australians, New Zealanders, Americans and people from UK, can be found in most of the hospitals and medical facilities," Gibson says. And there is no shortage of these facilities, with plenty of the oil wealth being spent on state-of-the art hospitals and cutting-edge technology. People Placements International has sent about 250 South Africans to the region in the past two years. Not all have been medical - they also supply security, technical and IT workers. Gibson says South Africans are particularly sought-after. "South Africans are capable of multi-tasking and get the work done, even if it means doing things outside of their area of specialisation." Gibson believes most South Africans are lured by the pay and benefits. "In the medical profession there you do not really learn anything that you could not have at home. The salaries are, however, well above what a nurse, for example, would get at home and then there are the benefits of no tax, free housing and medical care." The Khobar attack has affected Gibson's business - a recruitment visit by a Saudi hospital this month has been postponed - but she is confident that things will return to normal soon. "I was working there during the September 11 tragedy and we never really felt unsafe. There were threats and attacks on American staff, but it was accepted that we are Africans, and not involved." The oil wealth has brought rapid development to the region, but development of skills has not kept pace. So, it seems, South Africans will continue to be lured by fabulous job offers.
Informal settlement violence: MEC slams xenophobia ( SABC News, 08/05) - Maureen Modiselle, the North West safety and liaison MEC, has blamed the xenophobia that is allegedly the source of violence between Xhosa- and Shangaan-speaking people at informal settlements near Rustenburg. Modiselle further expressed her distress at hearing on a visit to the Zakhele informal settlement today that violence had broken out after the rape of an eight-year-old Xhosa girl, allegedly by a 15-year-old Shangaan boy. "It is tragic that a boy of this age is involved in such conduct," she said in a statement. In the past week two people have been killed, 52 shacks and nine vehicles have been burnt and four people have been injured, Modiselle said. About 30 families who lost their shacks were accommodated at a local church and at least 28 people have been arrested. Modiselle said the provincial government would involve institutions like the Human Rights Commission "to promote the spirit of peace and human rights in these informal settlements". She also said her government was about to conclude a study, commissioned in 2003, to look at socio-economic conditions in the settlements. "The public will be informed of the exact long-term solutions to the violence in this area." She said the rape "perhaps best explains the many socio-economic variables that are prevalent in most of these informal settlements. I am deeply distressed by the trauma and experience that this young girl is going through. All the necessary steps have been taken by the SA Police Service to ensure speedy and appropriate counselling. "Equally I am worried about the effect that the arrest and subsequent criminal processes will have on this young boy." It could not be established whether the Shangaan-speakers were South Africans, Mozambicans or both. The community traditionally lives on both sides of the border. Families affected by the violence will receive food and trauma counselling. Nomonde Rasmeni, the North West social development MEC, said: "As a social intervention, the department will register the affected families for social relief of distress and other grants, distribute food to the affected families and also offer counselling to the traumatised people in both areas. Eight families will get food parcels in Freedom Park this afternoon after they were also left destitute."
Rustenburg squatter camp calm after clashes (SABC News, 08/06) - The situation at the strife-torn KwaZakhele squatter settlement in Rustenburg is still tense but calm following yesterday's runaway fierce battles between two tribes. The clashes have allegedly been sparked by an incident where a Xhosa girl (8) was raped by a Shangaan boy (15). Maureen Modiselle, the Northwest safety and liaison MEC, says 28 people have since been arrested and police have launched an intensive investigation. More arrests can be expected. As tension amounts, families continue to flee the area to ask for shelter elsewhere. More than 10 cars have been torched as a war of xenophobia engulfs the settlement. Some families spent a cold night in public buildings trying to escape the raging violence. Extra police reinforcements have been ordered from neighbouring towns in an effort to contain the violence and to restore calm.
Immigration Act could be passed in two months (SABC News, 08/06) - If Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, the new home affairs minister, has her way, the Immigration Act will be passed by August. "For as long as we do not have these regulations in place we are hitting very serious problems out there," she told Parliament's portfolio committee on home affairs today. She said amendments to the regulations for the act would be taken to the government and administration on June 15. "We will take the amendments before Cabinet on June 23 and we are hoping that Cabinet will give us the go ahead to go before Parliament on the 24th." The minister said the committee would then have two weeks to deliberate on the amendments and call for public comment. "We are hoping that the committee will be able to deal with the act in July. If the committee is able to deal with the act and call for public participation, then we should be able to pass it in August. "This is the only way of ensuring that we meet the president's three month deadline. We will, in the main, be dependent on whether the committee will be able to deal with this at the same speed that the department has," she said. She was apologetic about the "steam-rolling" but stressed that the act had to be passed as soon as possible. "The timeframes are very very tight. I felt it was very tight but it is also a challenge for the department." The passing of the Immigration Act was the cause for tension between Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the former home affairs minister, and President Thabo Mbeki. It resulted in a court battle. The court action started when Buthelezi hastily promulgated the regulations while they were still under discussion by the Cabinet. The Cape High Court ruled that an order, made in March this year that the regulations be published, be set aside. Mapisa-Nqakula said some of the amendments had to do with the powers afforded to the Immigration Advisory Board. The regulations gave the board executive powers which the act did not. Under the current regulations the board has a research arm which the minister says should have remained a responsibility of the department.
All roads lead to Gauteng for tourists (Pretoria News, 07/06) - Gauteng has always been regarded as the poor step-sister of South African tourism - but not any more. According to the latest South African Tourism report, half of the 5,6-million tourists who visited South Africa in 2003 preferred Gauteng as their holiday destination. And the province is attracting more than twice as many visitors as that province down south which boasts a world famous mountain and the sea. Gauteng attracted 50,7% visitors, more than double the Western Cape's 23,5% and KwaZulu-Natal's 18,6%. Gauteng's share of the visitors rose 1,1 percentage points, from 49,6% in 2002, as opposed to the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal which both experienced a drop in numbers - 25,4% and 19,2% respectively compared with 2002. "Tourists" are defined as visitors who do not necessarily spend a night in the province, and include shoppers from other African countries. The African market makes up for 65% of the tourist market, with the highest number of visitors coming from Lesotho, then Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. Gauteng also attracts more business trips than other provinces do, at over 800 000. The province also boasts the highest figures when it comes to bed nights. A total of 60 303 075 bed nights were spent in South Africa in 2003. Some 31% were spent in Gauteng, a 0,1% increase, followed by the Western Cape at 26% and KwaZulu-Natal at 15%. The Western Cape was the only province to experience a drop in bed nights, down from 30%. Gauteng also experienced the most spending. Of the R53,9-billion spent in South Africa by tourists in 2003, R18,7-billion was spent in Gauteng, compared to R8,1-billion in the Western Cape, and R7,4-billion in KwaZulu Natal. Shopping is the top tourist activity, making up 25,4% of visits. Next priority on visitors' lists is nightlife at 15,4%, with social activities such as visiting family and friends at 12%, and wildlife and beaches both at 7%, followed by visits to cultural and heritage sites at 6%. The report states that the "bedrock of the tourism economy in South Africa remains the domestic market and land-based travel from neighbouring SADC countries". South Africa ranks 30th in international tourist arrivals. The top five countries are France, Spain, US, Italy and China. Research shows that 99% of foreigners would visit the country again, while 99% said they would recommend South Africa to others. "Johannesburg is becoming the business hub of Southern Africa and many countries are using the city to exhibit their products and to hold conferences. We have four major convention centres in the city, which is more than most international cities," said Johannesburg Tourism Company chief executive Deon Viljoen. Last year the city hosted 6-million tourists - 3-million domestic, 1-million international and 1,8-million from Africa. The Johannesburg tourism industry is highly regarded, said Viljoen.
Cape stays top as tourism numbers rise again (Cape Argus, 07/06) - The Western Cape has once again proved to be the destination of choice for visitors to South Africa. Figures for the last quarter of 2003 show that visitors spent more nights in the province than in any other. According to the SA Tourism report for the last quarter of last year, half of the 5.6 million visitors to South Africa in 2003 passed through Gauteng. And although only 28% of visitors spent time in the Western Cape, they stayed longer in the province and gave a greater financial fillip to the tourism industry. One reason for the relatively longer stays was probably because eight of the 10 most popular national tourist attractions are here, according to Nokhuthula Dube, chief executive officer of the Cape's new Destination Marketing Organisation. The V&A Waterfront once again rated as top destination for 2003, followed by Table Mountain, Cape Point, the Wine Route, the Garden Route, Kirstenbosch, Robben Island and Oudtshoorn ostrich farms. Popular places outside the Western Cape were Kruger National Park (9) and Durban beach front (10). Western Cape townships were rated 23rd in a list of 25 popular destinations. The report was based on surveys conducted at Johannesburg and Cape Town airports. Western Cape foreign visitor numbers fell fractionally from the last quarter of 2002. Gauteng's share rose 1.1 percentage points, from 49.6%. "Visitors" are defined as foreign arrivals not including workers and contract workers, and they include shoppers from other African countries. Altogether 65% of visitors come from African countries, with the highest numbers from Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique in that order. But Dube was pleased with Gauteng's performance. "If they are attracting more tourists, it is positive for the country as a whole," she said. Many tourists visited more than one province. Gauteng attracted more business trips than other provinces, more than 800 000. The largest chunk of the R53.9 billion spent by visitors, R18.7bn, went to Gauteng, compared to R8.1bn in the Western Cape and R7.4bn in KwaZulu-Natal. Shopping was the main goal, listed by 25.4% of visitors. Dube said Johannesburg was a gateway and the retail and business hub. "I think the challenge for the Western Cape is to get some leverage on business visitors who are in Johannesburg and get them down to Cape Town to enjoy what we have to offer. "It is important for us to look at what we can do to capitalise on the growth experienced in Gauteng and look at what we can do to compliment that growth." Steven Thomas, chairman of Backpacker Tourism South Africa, agreed: "It does not matter where they stop, as long as they are coming into the country." Research shows 99% of foreign visitors would like to come again, and 99% also said they would recommend South Africa to others.
Renewed clashes in Rustenburg (SABC News, 07/06) - More than 40 shacks have been destroyed by fire in renewed clashes between Xhosa and Tsonga speaking residents of Sakhele informal settlement near Rustenburg, in the North West. Nine motor vehicles have been burned and four people have been admitted to hospital with gunshot wounds. Twenty-eight people have been arrested. The latest development follows clashes last week where two people were killed and more than 12 shacks were burned down. A large contingent of police has been deployed at the settlement to avoid further incidents.Maureen Modiselle, the North West safety and security MEC, who visited the area today, says violence between the Xhosas and the Tsongas was sparked by an alleged rape of an eight-year-old girl, who went shopping at a spaza shop belonging to a Tsonga.Modiselle says Xhosas burned about 40 shacks and more than nine vehicles belonging to the Tsongas. She described the situation as tense, but under police surveillance.
Shameful truth about SA's treatment of refugees (Sunday Times, 06/06) - Two Rwandan teenagers seeking asylum from genocide were raped, imprisoned with adults and sent from pillar to post. When Deborah and Mina fled to South Africa from Rwanda, the two teenage girls were looking for safety, security and care. Instead, they have been raped, thrown in jail, shunted back and forth between police station and court and let down by one adult and authority figure after another. If not for the eleventh-hour intervention of an astute social worker, they would have been deported to Rwanda, where they have neither family nor friends, and dumped back on the streets of Kigali. The sisters - they can't be identified because they are under-age - are being kept in a place of safety in Bloemfontein while their lawyers gather the relevant information to make a proper application for asylum or refugee status. They have a harrowing story to tell, one which highlights the gaps in law, policy and practice relating to children unaccompanied by their parents, who end up in South Africa, claiming they are fleeing their home countries and who want to apply for official refugee standing. Before 1994, their family must have seemed like a model of inter-racial harmony: the father was a Tutsi and their mother a Hutu. But when the genocide began, they were a special target. Their father was murdered and the two girls, their older brother and their mother fled, on foot, to a refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But their lives were in constant danger, and they returned to Kigali, where they sought shelter with a friend of the mother. Very soon, the mother was detained and the girls now do not know where she is, or even whether she is still alive. They have also lost touch with their brother. About a year ago, both girls were forced from the temporary shelters they had found, and began to live on the streets. It was a terrifying period. Always short of food and clothes and in need of shelter, one of the girls also saw the man who had murdered her father, and from then on felt constantly afraid that he would find and kill her too. Just when they started to talk about leaving the country, they met a truck driver who said he would take them to South Africa when he left in February, and that they would be able to get papers and accommodation there. Throughout the journey he kept them hidden behind closed curtains in the cabin. However, when they eventually arrived in South Africa, the driver began demanding sex from the girls and threatened to leave them "in the jungle" if they did not comply. Their lawyer, Jacob van Gar-deren of Lawyers for Human Rights - who has interviewed them extensively - said the girls were raped by the truck driver. When they resisted his demands, he dumped them in Bloemfontein near the railway station. But it was a case of jumping from the frying pan into the fire. The sisters found a police station, where they explained they were on their way to Cape Town to be assisted by the South African authorities. They were sent to the magistrate's court. An official there sent them to the Home Affairs department, but they were sent back to the magistrate's office. When they got there, another official told them to go back to Home Affairs. When they did so, an official carted them off to prison. A couple of days later they were admitted to a place of safety. To their alarm, they were taken to the Rwandan Embassy in Pretoria for travel documents to return to Kigali, and sent to see the Rwandan ambassador. They told Van Garderen that they were afraid during this interview and feared further action when they arrived in Rwanda. At about this time they got their first lucky break. Childcare worker Feziwe Bacela, at the place of safety, realised that the children were not being correctly handled in terms of their attempt to apply for refugee status, and discovered that they were scheduled for immediate deportation. So she phoned the Centre for Child Law in Pretoria and informed director Ann Skelton of the girls' presence in the institution, and that they were to be flown out the next morning. Working under intense pressure, Skelton and Van Garderen put together an urgent application which was heard by a judge at nine that night. He agreed to order that their deportation be put on hold until a number of issues had been satisfactorily resolved. The two are still in the place of safety. Van Garderen has visited them to consult with them about the next course of action, and he and Skelton hope that in the short term they will be placed in foster care with a willing family. This would mean they could go to school and have some kind of normal life. In the meantime, their lawyers will ensure the state considers the girls' application and that it is supported with proper information about their circumstances. Skelton and Van Garderen are concerned that so many people bungled their handling of the girls, and listed some of the mistakes made by officials: "They should immediately have been identified as children in need of care but none of the agents they saw did so. Officials of the Department of Home Affairs refused to allow them to make an application for asylum as they should have done. They should not have been taken to the embassy of the country from which they were fleeing: that is a strong international principle. "Unaccompanied children who want to apply for asylum should be given legal help, but they were not. The only reason they have legal help now is because of the sharp-witted social worker who alerted us. "The decision to return them to Rwanda was made with no consideration as to how and by whom they would be received there. This is also unacceptable. "We are further concerned about the fact that they were put in jail. We don't know the conditions under which they were imprisoned, but the Constitution makes it very clear that children are simply not allowed to be detained with adults." But it's not just that the authorities failed to use the law as it now exists to help the children. Or that they violated the constitutional principle that the best interests of children need to be seen as paramount. The story of the two sisters also illustrates the urgent need to improve the children's Bill now being considered - one of its serious flaws is that it removes references to refugee children which had been retained in the earlier versions. It's also an open secret that the new brooms at Home Affairs have earmarked the Immigration Act for reconsideration. This would provide a good opportunity to ensure that precise guidelines are laid down for handling such situations. The harrowing saga of the two girls shows that there is much room for improvement in the law, in policy and practice. unaccompanied children arriving in South Africa seeking asylum should be treated with dignity and compassion and in accordance with the principles of the Constitution.
Home Affairs prioritises customers (Cape Argus, 03/06) - Grumpy, unhelpful Home Affairs clerks could soon be a thing of the past with the department's plans to lift employees' morale through an initiative called "The customer is always right". Phindi Mazomba, chief director of human resources and development at Home Affairs, told a parliamentary committee yesterday the campaign would begin in the next few months and aimed to address numerous complaints about the attitudes of frontline staff. It would include a training manual for staff explaining how to deal with clients and a reward and recognition system for eager-to-please staffers. Mazomba said basic computer training for all employees had also been introduced to teach officials how to use the many computers gathering dust in various provincial offices. In the presentation to the home affairs committee, officials also said the department had processed 35 000 divorces during the last financial year. During the same period it issued 1.7 million birth certificates, 505 000 death certificates and 233 000 marriage licences. There were an additional 20 951 customary unions. Joel Chavalala, chief director of civic services, said the department was working with its IT division on a tracking system to enable clerks to answer questions about the status of pending documents. Another priority was a national registration campaign that was under way. Minister of Home Affairs Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula was due to go on a national tour of provinces to encourage people to apply for ID books and for birth certificates for their children. Chavalala also said the department was gradually moving away from demanding paperwork from people in the forms of marriage certificates and written assurances from schools to prove identity. "We are moving towards investigative methods where our immigration officers will go out and make sure the information provided is authentic," he said. Immigration officers were currently being retrained.
Home Affairs spends R500m on hi-tech (Business Day, 02/06) - The home affairs department is to pump R500m into its information technology upgrade this financial year, boosting its Home Affairs National Identity System (Hanis). Department director-general Barry Gilder told Parliament's home affairs portfolio committee that the investment in Hanis could see it issuing the new smart card IDs this financial year. Government has already put more than R1bn into the project and the department's new management has given it high priority in its turnaround strategy. The issuing of the new "smart" ID cards, which have a microchip, would start this financial year, followed by the issuing of more than 30-million cards over a period of five years, said Gilder. Advises had already submitted the procurement and technical models for the new ID card. The procurement process would start "shortly" and a memorandum would go to the cabinet within a month. Also, the department will, during the next six months, introduce a unique permanent 13-digit ID number to all, as well as a "smart" passport, using similar technology to the new ID card, increasing passport security. The long-awaited Hanis, on which government has already spent R1bn, had been given an injection of more than R250m in this financial year to redesign it into a system that offers a "comprehensive integrated biometric database", said Gilder. The project is designed to replace traditional IDs with cards containing personal data and linked to a national database storing the fingerprints of all citizens and incorporating the national population register, movement control system, the refugee and illegal databases. It would play a key part in reducing fraud and had been designed in partnership with Statistics SA to ensure a "comprehensive and reliable database of all info required by government for statistical and planning purposes", said Gilder. He said R250m was earmarked for the filling of 1000 posts in the department this financial year in order to improve delivery. Part of the plan was to increase the number of employees from 7500 to 11700 in three years.
Smart passport on way (Cape Argus, 02/06) - South Africa will have a "smart" passport within two years as the government moves to tighten security around travel documents, Home Affairs director-general Barry Gilder said. The announcement yesterday came a week after National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi told MPs that a box of fake South African passports had been found in a London house and were believed to be linked to the al-Qaeda network. Not only would the new travel document increase passport security, but it would speed up the processing of citizens at ports of entry, Gilder said. The smart passport was similar to the long-awaited national identity card - or smart card - that would be introduced during this financial year, he told a joint meeting of parliament's home affairs committees yesterday. Gilder said the national ID card would be put out to tender soon. It would be introduced over the next five years, at about 6 million a year, he said. A unique, permanent ID number would also be introduced within six months. The number would not change with status or date of birth and would prevent multiple identities, he said. In a bid to stop fraudulent marriages, the department would also amend marriage legislation. The rise in the number of fraudulent marriages where a foreigner paid a local to marry them on paper, or bribed home affairs officials to marry them to unwitting citizens, was of great concern, Gilder said.
Two appear in court over ethnic clashes (SABC News, 02/06) - Two people appeared briefly in the Bafokeng Magistrate Court today near Rustenburg in North West Province, while another four are expected to appear tomorrow in the same court. Their appearance is related to the killing of two people in what has been described as ethnic clashes between Xhosas and Tsonga speaking people, at the Freedom Park squatter camp near Rustenburg over the weekend. Police acted swiftly to restore law and order at the Freedom Park squatter camp, following a weekend of unprecedented violence in the area. Siyabonga Mafika (22) and Mgenisile Masegadi (25) are now facing 10 counts of public violence and arson. The case against the two has been postponed until next week Wednesday, for further police investigations. Another 4 suspects will appear in court tomorrow on charges of public violence and police say they are confident that more arrests will be made soon.
This page last updated 5 Nov 2004.