Transcript copy of Director-General, Mkuseli Apleni's comments during the Home Affairs weekly media briefing 03 October 2013

Our weekly media briefing session this week will focus on several issues including the Supreme Court of Appeal judgment on the opening of refugee reception Centre in Cape Town; the Public Protector’s findings on allegations of irregular appointment of a service provider to assist the Department of Home Affairs in the relocation of its headquarters from Watloo to Hallmark Building in Pretoria and the call on those affected by duplicate IDs to visit home affairs before the proposed invalidation date of 30 October 2013

Introduction

As you may very well be aware, both Minister Naledi Pandor and Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan are currently out of the country on official visits where they are leading South African government delegations to New York and Geneva respectively.

Minister Pandor is in New York to attend and represent South Africa at the UN High Level Dialogue on Migration and Development, while Deputy Minister Chohan is leading our delegation to the Annual Executive Committee meeting of the UNHCR.

 

HOME AFFAIRS WELCOMES THE SUPREME COURT OF APPEAL JUDGEMENT ON REFUGEE RECEPTION CENTRE IN CAPE TOWN

We have noted and welcomed the judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal regarding the decision of the Department to cease operation at the Cape Town Refugee Reception Centre during 2012.

The decision of the department to close this Centre was taken after careful consideration of all relevant factors, which included but not limited to a series of court challenges as well as complaints lodged by business communities. The complaints related mostly to nuisance caused by asylum seekers and refugees attending the Centre.

Furthermore, the department, despite best efforts could not secure suitable alternative space to accommodate the Centre around Cape Town.

Following this decision, Scalabrini Centre supported by several others, filed applications at the Western Cape High Court, essentially requesting the court to order the Department to re-open the Refugee Centre and accept application from new asylum seekers. The Western Cape High Court set aside the decision of the department to close the Centre and declared such decision unlawful.  The Court further ordered the Director-General to open a fully-functional Centre to applicants for asylum. Pursuant to the Western Cape High Court judgment, the Department filed an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The Supreme Court of Appeal, although dismissing the department’s appeal, made a fundamental finding in favour of the Department.  The SCA set aside the decision of the Western Cape High Court ordering the Department to open the Centre to new asylum seekers as well as providing regular reports to Scalabrini on the progress made towards opening the Centre. (That is what our appeal was all about)

Of importance to the department is the necessity to speedily implement the court order relating to taking a fresh decision on whether or not to close the Centre. In this regard, the court found that although consultation with the Standing Committee for Refugee affairs (SCRA) was sufficient, the Court, nonetheless, found that consultation with Scalabrini and other relevant NGOs could not be said to be sufficient.

 

PUBLIC PROTECTOR DISMISSES CLAIMS OF IRREGULARITY IN THE APPOINTMENT OF A SERVICE PROVIDER FOR THE RELOCATION OF HOME AFFAIRS HEADQUARTERS FROM WATLOO TO HALLMARK BUILDING IN PRETORIA

The Department of Home Affairs has been cleared by the Public Protector of any irregularity and maladministration in the appointment of a service provider during the relocation of our headquarters from Watloo to Hallmark Buildings in Pretoria.

As part of government policy to locate all government buildings in the city Centre of Pretoria as the administrative capital of the Republic and to boost confidence in the city Centre, the department had decided to move its headquarters operations from Watloo to the Hallmark buildings in Pretoria.

As a result of this decision, and following procurement processes in line with the Public Finance Management Act, a service provider, Courier Freight Services was appointed to effect the move from Watloo to Hallmark buildings.

A complaint was subsequently laid with the office of the Public Protector alleging that no proper procurement procedures were followed in the appointment of the service provider.

The Public Protector then requested copies of:

  1. The advertisement of the tender
  2. Minutes of the bid specification, bid evaluation and bid adjudication committee in respect of the tender
  3. Proposals of all companies that tendered for the service
  4. The contract entered into between the department and the successful bidder
  5. The acceptance of the offer by the successful bidder.
  6. The relevant supply chain management policies of the department that were applied during the procurement process.

 

After this investigation, the Public Protector made the following findings:

  1. That the department used a transversal contract arranged by the National Treasury
  2. Confirmation to this effect was received from the National Treasury
  3. As a consequence of the above, no irregular appointment by the department was found and that the matter is consequently and hereby closed

The department welcomes this decision of the Public Protector and reiterates its commitment to ensure continuity in its full compliance with provisions of the Public Finance Management Act in all procurement processes.

 

A CALL TO THOSE AFFECTED BY DUPLICATE IDS TO COME FORWARD

You will recall that Minister Pandor had recently reiterated her commitment to ending the practice of duplicate IDs which continue to wreak havoc in the lives of those affected South Africans. This has the negative effect of denying those affected their right to engage in educational, business, banking including the right to access basic government services.

We have previously engaged in a campaign in the form of print media advertisements to draw the attention of those affected that the department stands ready to assist them in dealing with this problem. The advertisements were placed in all national and regional print media in the form of supplements. Furthermore we engaged the services of Trans-Union to acquire their personal details and the writing of personalized letters and sms to those affected.

Despite these efforts few of those affected responded positively to the call for assistance. Nonetheless, the department did everything in its power to reach out to those affected utilising information at its disposal acquired from the National Population Register to reach out to those affected. Consequently the number of those affected was gradually reduced from about 400 000 to 46 000

This we do with no malicious intent but an administrative act to ensure full compliance with provisions of the law that requires that the department issues one ID per person. It is therefore illegal for a person to share an ID with another or have multiple IDs.

There are two types of duplicates identified by the Department, i. e. one person with multiple identity numbers and multiple persons sharing one identity number

For one person with multiple identity numbers the Department took a decision to invalidate by end of October 2013. The outstanding figure for this category is 28 548 . For one person sharing an ID number with other persons, the balance is 18 641.

Preparations are underway to gazette the details of those affected. The Department is calling upon all clients affected to visit their nearest DHA office / contact centre, as well as calling the numbers provided for assistance.

 

Contact details:

Identity numbers can be verified by sending SMS to 32551, with the identity number

Visit the department website on www.dha.gov.za and follow the link “Duplicate”

Call Centre number 0800 6011 90

E-mail:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alternative contact numbers:

012 406 7006              012300 8723               0726340614                0726340408

012 300 8727              012 300 8703              0726340683                0829028965

012 300 8706              0735674131                0749063304                0726340589

0735674516

 

Multiple People Sharing:

012 406 7002              012 300 8782              012 406 7003              012 300 8781 

We will also soon republish the names of those affected in the print media as part of our national offensive to rid the country of the scourge of duplicate IDs.

 

PREPARATIONS FOR LAUNCH OF SMART ID CARDS

Minister Pandor will soon conduct a briefing with the media regarding the status of the roll-out of the Smart ID card which was officially launched on 18 July 2013 to coincide with national and international celebrations of Nelson Mandela Day.

The Department is currently re-configuring the infrastructure in a number of our offices across the country and soon as these have been completed, Minister Pandor will announce the roll-out plans. However, we wish to reiterate that:

  1. Applications will be in accordance with dates of births
  2. The smart ID card will be issued free of charge to youths reaching the age of 16 years
  3. All other applicants will be expected to pay R140-00 (one hundred and forty rand only)
  4. The issuance of the smart ID card to millions of South Africans will indeed take a few years, estimated to be between 6-7 years
  5. Accordingly, we call on the public to exercise patience as the government rolls out the smart ID card

 

CLEANING OF NPR

The Department has embarked on a process to clean the NPR. Amongst others is the modernization of DHA, which include the issuance of Smartcard to those that are 16 years and above.

When applying for the Smartcard, applicants will be required to provide:

  • Proof of address indicating where the applicant resides
  • First time applicants should be accompanied by the parent/legal guardian
  • A copy of the birth certificate

 

DELINKING OF APPLICATION FOR AMENDMENT/RECTIFICATION FROM ID APPLICATIONS

The process includes decommissioning the issuing of ID document to the clients by means of delinking applications for Amendment/Rectification from that of an Identity document.

This includes applying for changes first, i.e. surname, date of birth etc. The applicant will be informed of the outcome afterwards. Once approved, the applicant/client is required to apply for the identity document.

On that note we stand ready to field your questions

I thank you

 

Questions and Answers

Question: What progress has been made on the Samantha Lewthwaite matter?

Answer: Minister Naledi Pandor is on record as saying this matter is being investigated by the Justice, Crime Prevention and Safety Cluster and once these are finalised, Government will decide on what forms to inform the public. But what we must emphasise is that this issue happened in 2011. You will recall that we improved our passports when the security features were weak and were able to be copied and falsified. Minister Pandor indicated in her briefing that it was not the passport that was faked but the process of obtaining that document and I think that difference is important

Question: Will South Africa, as a state, go for the Universal Visa for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc as agreed at the recent United Nations General Assembly in August?

Answer: The issue of the Universal Visa is not a South African Government matter but a collective one. The SADC countries are working on this issue and South Africa is part of the pilot group. The interest is that as the region the visa will improve our tourism and our economy if we are competing with the rest of the world as a bloc. For us to do so, we must have systems that are integrated. As SADC we are working together under the guidance of our respective Presidents and that team reports to these Presidents. Once they are comfortable, they will come back to us to indicate whether we are ready. As SADC we want to work as a bloc because we know that we will have more power than working as individuals. If a tourist travels to Swaziland and then the rest of the region without any impediment surely that is a benefit. For foreign direct investment, it also helps if you present yourself as a bloc than individually.

Question: What disciplinary measures are there in the Department to get rid of human fallibility because it seems as if this is the challenge when issuing fraudulent documents rather than systems?

Answer: As a Department we have implemented system to fight the scourge of fraud and corruption to uniquely identify which official has been working on what document through the use of biometrics. The Department has been successful in dealing with officials committing fraud in the Department and, mostly, every month we release details of those who have been arrested. We are able to trace every document that has been produced in the Department because of the fingerprint that uniquely identifies every individual. The Minister will soon be announcing a system whose thrust will be a biometric element for both the applicant and the official working on the system.  

Question: With the Department welcoming the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal on the Refugee Reception Center in Cape Town, what is going to happen now? Does this mean you are going to open the Center? If so, when?

Answer: The decision of the Western Cape High Court was ordering the Department to open an office whereas we were arguing that the office was closed and there needs to be a process to get to that. The Supreme Court has agreed with us that the Director-General must be given an opportunity to take that decision. What will have to happen between now and the end of November is consultations with all the affected parties and agree on the way forward. A decision may be to open the office in Cape Town or not

Question: Ten million people have passports in this country, do you have any indication as to how many other passports have been falsified?

Answer: That is what we are interested in because we are saying there is no passport that has been falsified after the improvements but I do not want to open this debate because there is an investigation into the issue. But, as Home Affairs we have been saying the first entry point in the National Population Register must be the registration at birth within 30 days to ensure that nobody enters our population register when they are old because that is when a window of fraud is opened. When that child is 16 years old and is applying for an ID, he or she must be accompanied by either parent whose details were captured in the unabridged birth certificate during registration of birth. All these efforts are to ensure that the National Population Register is credible and secured. Minister has already announced that by 2015 the Department will discontinue the late registration of birth process and if children are not registered within 30 days, once regulations are out there will be a penalty for registering outside that period. If that child is over two years, you will have to get an approval at ministerial level to register the child.

Question: With regards to duplicate IDs, why do you think people are not coming forward to be assisted?

Answer: You will recall that an ID re-issue was increased from R20.00 to R140.00 because people were not looking after their documents. Some were fleeing from their financial responsibilities and criminal records, among others, by applying for another ID and this results in a person having multiple IDs but if you are a genuine case you will use our SMS service where you SMS service where you send your ID number and the letter D to 32551 and the system indicates whether you have a duplicate case or not. Perhaps this number we are left with now is the residue of problematic ones that need to be dealt with. We have contacted financial institutions through SABRIC as well as TransUnion for them to check if these IDs do not have loans or default judgements so that these people think they are free of their obligations after the invalidation process. We are not going to keep this issue any longer because we want to clean our National Population Register.


Issued by Department of Home Affairs, 909 Arcadia Street, Pretoria

3 October 2013