Home affairs being sued for R6.8bn

Cape Town - The department of home affairs is being sued for R6.8bn, with victims of identity fraud and foreigners wrongfully detained demanding some R414m in damages, according to its annual report.

"Immigration claims arise out of unlawful arrests and detention of illegal foreigners, as well as damages arising out of failure by the department to timeously make decisions on permits," the department said.

The department's director general Mkuseli Apleni however told reporters in Pretoria earlier: "The (R6bn) of legal claims is only a probability... the public must be aware of this, we want to be transparent."

According to the report released on Thursday, home affairs was also facing lawsuits from people erroneously declared dead, people whom they failed to issue with identity documents and others arrested after their IDs were used in a fraudulent manner.

One of the cases was brought by the parents of a minor to whom home affairs issued a passport without their authorisation.

Tenders and contracts

However, the bulk of the court cases brought against the department related to tenders and contracts, the latter accounting for R5bn of pending legal claims against home affairs.

It is being sued by technology services group Gijima after cancelling a major contract relating to its controversial "Who am I online" project. The contract was signed for R4.5bn, though the tender was awarded for R1.9bn. The department has already paid R391m towards the contract, and is now being sued for the remainder of the amount, coming to roughly R4.1bn.

It also faces a claim of R76.5m from a service provider who invoiced home affairs in foreign currency, because the work was done by a company based abroad.

Home affairs contends the services were provided locally, and that it should therefore be billed in rands.

The department is furthermore embroiled in a dispute with the department of international relations and co-operation over some R460 600 in running costs on its foreign operations for which it has not received supporting documents.

A tender for home affairs' electronic document management system, which, like the Gijima deal, was handled by the State Information Technology Agency, had resulted in two lawsuits against the department.
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