New agency to be established to regulate immigrants

2015-09-24 06:00
PHOTO: nokulunga ngobese

Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Fatima Chohan speaks at a meeting facilitated by the KZN Christian Council at the Cathedral of the Holy Nativity Church on Tuesday.

PHOTO: nokulunga ngobese Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Fatima Chohan speaks at a meeting facilitated by the KZN Christian Council at the Cathedral of the Holy Nativity Church on Tuesday.

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DEPUTY Minister of Home Affairs Fatima Chohan has cited corruption among immigration officials as the main reason for the growing number of illegal immigrants in South Africa.

Speaking at a meeting facilitated­ by the KZN Christian Council at the Cathedral of the Holy Nativity Church on Tuesday, Chohan said Parliament is working on passing a law that will see the establishment of a border management agency as a regulatory measure.

The agency is an effective way of regulating who comes into the country, and is also aimed at creating an integrated apparatus for land and sea borders.

“While there are officials working at the border, the country continues to have illegal immigrants. By establishing a border management agency, we want to be a state that is concerned with the rule of law.

“When people cross the border illegally, they are perpetrating a criminal act. In South Africa, when people are here illegally, we don’t seem to think they are violating our laws. One of the causes is that refugee centres are no longer used to process documentation as it used to before.

“We are also working on amending the immigration policy to ensure that whoever is in the country is here legally.” She raised concerns that apart from corruption by officials, adjudicators, who look at applications for immigrants, sometimes find it difficult to establish whether some are in the country legally because they don’t bring documents with them and have to give authority based on personal interviews.

Some foreign nationals raised concerns that they cannot renew their permits locally and have to go back to their country of origin, which is expensive, taking into account travel costs.

Chohan said it was impossible for immigrants to renew permits locally because refugee centres use the manual system as they have to conduct interviews with applicants

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