Department of Home Affairs Briefing on challenges encountered in issuance of permits
09 Aug 2010
Mr Mkuseli Apleni, Director General (DG), Department of Home Affairs, briefed the media on the challenges faced by the Department in the issuance of permits. The briefing also included details on how the Department planned to overcome these challenges.
Q: Did the Department have any statistics regarding the amount of abuse for visitors’ permits, especially after the World Cup? How many visitors that came for the World Cup have not gone home? What was the time line for the amendments to the Immigration Act?
A: The DG replied that the Department’s Movement Control System (MCS) did not record the physical address of individuals however it did provide information as to how many individuals came into the country. The final statistics would be provided by September; thereafter the Department would be able to know who those individuals were that had not left the country. It should be noted that time frames took into consideration the Parliamentary process that had to be followed. The amendments were with the state attorneys and would be tabled in Parliament once they were finished. The target was that the amendments would be dealt with within this current Parliamentary process.
Q: What penalties would there be for South Africans that entered into bogus marriages and would there be criminal sanctions?
A: The DG replied that at this stage the problematic issues were merely being highlighted. The Department still had to draft a Bill and consider the types of penalties that could be imposed. The Department was aiming for criminal sanctions.
Q: What were the current penalties for persons that entered into bogus marriages? What deadlines had been set for the amendments to the Immigration Act?
A: The DG replied that there were currently no penalties for persons entering into bogus marriages. South African perpetrators caught in the act faced no penalties and foreigners were deported.
Q: What did the DG mean when he made reference to the current Parliamentary process? Shouldn’t the security of passports and South African documents be a short-term issue as opposed to a long-term issue as previously stated?
A: The DG replied that he was referring to the 2010 Parliamentary session. The security of documents was an issue that was being dealt with on a daily basis, this was why the status of passports had been improved and the MCS had been a great success during the World Cup. The MCS Control System was linked to all databases.
Q: Were there any statistics available for South Africans entering bogus marriages?
A: The DG replied that there were no statistics available. Both South African males and females were guilty of engaging in such practices.
Q: Was the Department looking at taking internal measures against officials that arranged bogus marriages within the Department itself?
A: The DG replied that it was true that there were perhaps some officials who made the situation worse. The Department was implementing a process whereby its officials would take photos and scan the fingerprints of those who got married. However it was conceded that it was not only the Department that had the power to conclude marriages.
Q: Did the Department have a rough estimation as to how many immigration practitioners were currently in operation?
A: There were 400 registered practitioners however it should be noted that lawyers could also function as immigration practitioners.
Q: How far was the Department on the Smart Card type of identity documents?
A: Ms Cleo Mosana, Ministerial Liaison Officer, Department of Home Affairs, replied that the briefing was only on the issue of permits; the issue of the Smart Cards would be dealt with at an appropriate time.
Q: How many designated ports of entry were not functioning properly?
A: Mr Jackie McKay, Deputy Director-General: Immigration Services, Department of Home Affairs, replied that the information was not available presently but the Department would make it available at a later stage. The entry ports were really small where it was village crossings from one country to another. Normally there would be a policeman that regulated persons coming in and out of these points. This was viewed as a security risk and closing such ports would be considered.
The briefing was adjourned.
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