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- A Stuijt
- Retired South African medical journalist, ex-Sunday Times of Johannesburg.
It will take the Dept. of Home Affairs 30 years just to clear up the backlog – and another 5,000 new cases come in every month…
October 21 2009 -- Picture by Brendon Geach of Cape Argus: CHAOS AT REFUGEE CENTRE
CAPE TOWN. Oct 21 2009 -- With only 56,000 of the 694,500 or so asylum seekers’ applications processed – and the rest requiring 30 years just to clear up the backlog from Africans fleeing to South Africa, chaotic scenes unfolded Monday at the new Home Affairs Refugee Centre in Maitland – opened after a Cape High Court order closed down the old one in Nyanga after massive complaints of crime and violence from local businesses.
- Guards were struggling to maintain order in Maitland, too, writes staff writer Murray Williams of the Cape Argus today.
Maitland police's communication officer Siyabulela Vukubi confirmed that police had received complaints of unruly behaviour as people forced their way to the front of the queue.
- Vukubi said he had been told by guards at the office that “the crowd control measures were "normal" and "happened every day".
The centre opened in Maitland last week after the one in Nyanga was closed by the Cape High Court following complaints from 20 businesses. http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1&click_id=6&art_id=nw20091021104833711C184909
The Department of Home Affairs admitted in a recently published report that at the present pace, it would take 30 yearsto clear up the backlog, that is, if no further asylum seeker applications were received, reported the Tribune last weekend.
However another about 5,000 new applications are also registered each month – and of these, only ten percent are ‘favourably considered’, with the other 90% then remaining in South Africa in the limbo of their appeal process.
- These brute statistics, as laid out in the DHA's annual report for 2008/9, are as follows, writes The Tribune:
There are 694 557 asylum seekers in South Africa.
- 56 716 have been granted refugee status.
- 105 457 cases are registered on appeal.
More than half-a-million asylum seekers are standing in queues…
What the statistics do not record, however writes The Tribune newspaper, is this: if only 56 716 applications have been successful, and if, as is the case in law, there is provision for all rejected applications to be taken to appeal, then more than half a million asylum seekers are either standing in queues waiting for their cases to be considered -- or they have simply opted out of the system and chosen to take their chances in the mushrooming population of illegals in South Africa.
- Fatima Khan, the head of UCT's law clinic, described the situation in Home Affairs as "organised chaos", noting that the clinic has placed thousands of cases on appeal (as many as 7,000 in a six-month period)."We have not had a single judgment back since 2006," she said.
As set out in the Refugees Act of 1998, the registration process is cumbersome.
Here’s the way it works:
- 1. Asylum seekers first have to present themselves at specially designated refugee reception centres.
- Here they register their claims to asylum and are automatically issued with so-called Section 22 permits, officially acknowledging them as asylum seekers.
- 2. which takes years – asykum seekers are required to renew their Section 22 permits every three months – and the would-be refugee is supposed to be given a face-to-face hearing by a Home Affairs official designated as a Refugee Status Determination Officer (RSDO). This official then decides on the validity of the particular application.
- 3. If successful at this stage, the applicant is “home and dry” - eligible for South African residency and refugee identity and travel papers. Throughout this process, South Africa is not providing any kind of housing or income-support to house and feed these refugees.
Only 4 DHA officers for all appeals, deciding 50 cases a week…
If not succeesful moreover, the applicant has an automatic right to appeal against the decision, and for the matter to be heard again by an appeal board specially constituted within the DHA for this purpose. In the initial legislation, a standing committee overseeing and second-guessing the appeal board provided a further guarantee of probity, but this has been discontinued.
- At the appeal board level lies the still unresolved nub of the problem - only four DHA officials sit on the board nationwide. The board deals with only around 50 cases a week, and even dealing with that is failing to write up - as required by law - the judgments arrived at for particular applications.
Tjerk Damstra, acting chairman of the DHA, acknowledges that the board is behind by 4,000 judgments on the paperwork alone - that is 200 weeks’worth of of appeal hearings -- or just under four years.
- Between January and July this year, DHA officials rejected the applications of 42,611 people as unfounded; 14,821 appealed. Only 516 cases were finalised by the board in that time. What happened to the rest is not recorded.
In the face of all this, the DHA's attempts to get to grips with the issue over the past decade have proved largely ineffectual.
Companies make big bucks on outsourcing asylum applications: but they work…
- Only one Refugee Reception Centre - in Crown Mines, Johannesburg - is functioning at anything like optimal efficiency. This follows a succssfully managed turnaround implemented since 2006 by outside contractors, constitution-writing heavyweights, the multimillionaire Cyril Ramaphosa and Roelf Meyer's Fever Tree Consulting, in partnership with the US-based AT Kierney.
- The consultancy has achieved a noteworthy success in guaranteing a same day service in respect of the first phase of refugee applications at the refugee centre.
Applicants there are registered as asylum seekers via Section 22 permission and their applications are considered by RSDOs in a single, fluid process - but referring the vast majority of cases to the uncertainties of the appeal system.
And they have stamped out the corruption that exists elsewhere at all levels.
- Applicants are routinely forced to pass on money to (outsourced) security guards before they can get a hearing. Refugee status papers can be bought through the security guards and their DHA cronies for an average R1,500.
It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of rands exchange hands monthly at South Africa's Refugee Reception Centres and though DHA periodically acts against corrupt officials -120 in the past year - the problem persists.
In Cape Town, its refugee offices moved to Maitland after businesses in the area around the old office applied to have it closed, largely as a result of the crime and instability it was bringing to the area
- For example, a Zimbabwean rasta syndicate reportedly operated a protection racket, where you had to pay so much to be allowed in the queue. Once in, by all accounts, you had to deal with the security guards to make any further progress.
According to Lawyers for Human Rights' Jacob van Gaarderen, corruption and inefficiency in the refugee system has led to people waiting for longer than 10 years for their cases to be decided.
- Trying to turn back the tide, the DHA is doing what observers believe is too little too late. An amendment to the Refugees Act was passed in 2008, in part to break the logjam in appeal board hearings. The amendment act is itself being amended to include further refinements, and has yet to be decisively implemented.
- This article was originally published on page 21 of Tribune on October 11, 2009
Afrikaans teen Lanché Roberts murdered, Rhino Sandstone Quarries, Randfontein ambush
2009-10-20 An Afrikaans teen of the West Rand died on Friday - shot in the head during an ambush by a six-man gang at the Rhino Quarries, in Randfontein – and which sells sandstone to the local building industry. The road had been blocked off by a large rock and a car with six armed men inside. The murdered 17-year old pupil of Jan Viljoen High School in Randfontein, Lanché Roberts, was travelling on the back of his friend CJ’s father's bakkie when they were ambushed on a dirt road near Rhino Quarries, where CJ’s dad was headed to pay the wages of the workers. About R25,000 cash – the wage packet -- was found inside the bakkie after the shooting. police confirmed. Lanché and his friend sat in the back on the bakkie while CJ's parents and an unidentified girl sat in the cabin.
The five whites were ambushed while driving through a bend of the dirt road leading to the sandstone quarries where a big rock had been used to block the road, and a silver VW Polo was also parked across the road. “Six men jumped out of this car and started firing at them," said police.
The quarry foreman then sped away at high speed, with the robbers following them.
- “They kept on shooting," said Roberts senior. At one stage during the wild chase, CJ had also started slipping from the bakkie and anxiously held on while he screamed for help.The robbers eventually gave up the chase.
Bullet hid back of his head, lodged in his skull…
A bullet had hit the back of his head and had lodged in the front of his skull, similar to this file Xray from the Trauma Society which treates about 127,000 gunshot injuries a year….
A private security company rushed to the scene while someone called the boy’s father Sam, 43, who was at the dentist at that time. "You had better come now, sir, your child has been critically wounded," was all that he remembered of this conversation, he said.
Lanché was taken by helicopter to Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg, where he was admitted to the trauma intensive care unit. "They couldn't do anything for him. His brain kept bleeding," said Roberts. Lanché died at about 23:00 that evening. Earlier that day, he had said "goodbye my best dad" said his father. He’d also promised to be back in time to celebrate his sister Jolene's 22nd birthday that evening.
- "He was shot when he was vulnerable. He couldn't defend himself. He had a right to live and his right was taken away from him. My wife, my child (Jolene) and I will always live with this," said Roberts on Monday night. Lanché's mother, Heidi, said her son had had the "most beautiful and softest heart". "His school friends came today to fetch his skateboard to put in a special place at the school," she said.
The school held a special service on Monday, after which several of his friends received counselling. A candle was burning on Monday in the school's foyer in memory of this "helpful and decent" child who "had to die for nothing". Superintendent Gert Kruger, detective officer at the Randfontein police office, asked anyone with information about the incident to call him on 082 413 2635. http://www.news24.com/Content/SouthAfrica/News/1059/7ade02dbb8b24b6fad3609e2360805b2/20-10-2009-08-25/Teen_dies_tragically_in_ambush Rhino sandstone quarries, 5 Steyn Street, Randfontein, Gauteng 1759 telephone: 114122900
Afrikaans student ‘s arm sliced off by 2 cellphone robbers, Centurion
Oct 21 2009 -- ‘Voertsek! Voertsek!” shouted the two armed males at hospitality-college student Ciandi Vosloo, left, while they were slicing off the the girl’s right arm – just to steal her cheap little cellphone.
This was reported by Virginia Keppler, the intriprid, very hard-working and dedicated crime reporter at Beeld newspaper who interviewed the terrified Centurion Academy student in her Unitas Hospital bed in Pretoria yesterday.
The attackers sliced through Ms Vosloo ‘s tendons, two arteries and all the muscles in her right arm – she was holding her cellphone in her right-hand during the excruciatingly-painful attack, which took place in broad daylight, at 13:30 in South Street, Centurion right in front of her college.
“I’d just had my last class and was going home when these two unknown men attacked me. “They grabbed me and cut through my arm with a very sharp knife and I while was screaming, they were yelling, “voertsek, voertsek’ ‘ and then they ran off with my cellphone,’ the traumatised girl said, weeping loudly while she was telling the story.
“It was terrible. I hate them,’ she said. Her life was saved by two classmates and passersby. The classmates held on to her dangling arm. “I was scared I’d bleed to death,’ she said. Meanwhile, said her dad Johan, an unknown couple he only knows by the man’s name, Kallie de Lange and his wife – and to whom he is deeply grateful.
“Mr De Lange pushed his handkerchief into the wound to stop the bleeding before the couple rushed my girl to hospital,’ he said. It took trauma department doctors at Unitas seven hours to sew back all the severed tissue, tendons etc -- “and they repaired all the damage to her arm with an artery taken from her left leg,” said the father. They won’t know for at lest 18 months whether her arm will be fully functional again.
What have I ever done to them?
- Ciandi said she cannot understand the reason for the attack at all. “I don’t know what I have ever done to them. I was just walking in the road, I was innocent. As a result of this, I won’t be able to write by final fifth-year exams a week from now,’ she said. Mr Vosloo also said that it will take at least 18 months before they’ll know whether the girl’s arm has been restored fully. “I am so angry. If I get my hands on those people, I will kill them slowly,’ he fumed, clearly angry.
What made matters even worse was when he went to Lyttelton police station and tried to report the attack on his girl, ‘I was sent from pillar to post. Nobody wanted to take my complaint’, the father said. He said he will soon take her from hospital to recover at their home in Roodepoort. “We want to thank everyone who has helped Ciando and for all their support.
- Meanwhile Keppler also approached the police spokesman about the Lyttelton police station’s refusal to take Mr Vosloo’s complaint and writes, “someone was sent to the hospital at 6:30pm to take her statement…’ http://www.beeld.com/Content/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/1928/efc0d8165cf04f54939ccfecf1af737b/21-10-2009-12-50/Rowers_sny_byna_student_se_arm_af_
Toddler, 32 months, jailed overnight with dad in Wierda Bridge police cell
2009-10-21 Virginia Keppler of Beeld newspaper reports that a toddler whose single father was accused of alleged ‘rape’ by a baby-sitter, was also arrested and dumped into a police cell overnight together with his father.
Accusing white and Indian family men of rape is one of the best-known scams carried out in South Africa. Many thousands of men are accused of ‘rape’ each month – often by unknown female beggars along the roadsides who accost single male drivers in their cars and try to blackmail them into paying extortion money. If such men refuse to pay up, the women phone the police. This also happens often to men who hire casual employees. This hapless father was lifted from his bed at 11pm by the police after a baby sitter had lodged a formal complaint against him earlier in the day -- and taken to jail with his small child. The single father has no family in Pretoria and the police said they couldn’t find any Place of Safety which would take a 32-month old toddler. So the child was put in the cell with his dad and his diaper wasn’t changed even once in a ten-hour period – and the baby was left without food during that entire time, too. Only at around noon the next day, was a friend of the father finally allowed to take food to the baby, writes Keppler. The man’s lawyer Jacques Beetge said the police arrested the single father – who has no relatives in Pretoria – at around 11pm . Beetge said that the father and his small son were taken to the police cells in Wierda Bridge just before midnight and locked up together in one cell which had no other occupants. “I was shocked when I arrived at the police station at 10am to speak to my client, and saw him sitting there with his son on his knee in the cell. I asked police why the child wasn’t placed in a child-safety institution.” His client said that at one stage, the police had given his son a little red play-car with which he was playing on the filthy cell-floor, in his dirty diapers.
The police also wouldn’t explain to the lawyer why they had made no official entry on their registers of the child’s presence in the cell. “The police refused to help me place such an entry on record, too, because that would have proven that the child was actually imprisoned. I asked them whether the child had committed a crime, to which they replied negatively. After I struggled for about two hours to get the child out of the cell, I contacted Beeld newspaper, out of pure helplessness,’ he said. When Beeld contacted the police’s provincial office in Gauteng ‘ all hell broke lose, and urgent enquiries were made at the police station’, reports Kepler -- and at around 14:25, she writes that the police ‘spirited away the father and his small son in an unmarked grey vehicle from the police station’s rear gates.’’ Beetge said legal steps will be taken against the police.
- Childrens’ Rights legal expert Ms Carina du Toit of the University of Pretoria said when asked for comment, that the police had ‘acted in an irregular manner towards the child. They should have called a social worker.”
Police inspector Daniel Mavimbela said however ‘the police couldn’t find a place of safety for the baby because he was so young. Most places said they only accept children older than four. The Police does not have their own Places of Safety for children and we have to rely on outside agencies.’ Supt. Eugene Opperman, provincial spokesman, also claimed that the police ‘had tried to locate the family of the man, but that ‘the man did not want to cooperate...”
- Of course the police also have facilities available to grant immediate police bail – but that probably would have been far too humane a gesture, allowing a single dad to go home with his baby – in other words to treat him as if he were a family man with no previous crime record, and with a permanent address and moreover, a man who under the law, also is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law? http://www.beeld.com/Content/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/1928/e9fde60437f84ba290a555068bda38d0/21-10-2009-12-50/Kind_nag_lank_by_sy_pa_in_sel
2009-10-20 Pretoria. SAPA. An unknown number of people inside a Nissan Tiida were injured on Monday when a Volvo carrying a gang of fleeing armed robbers crashed into them in the working-class suburb of Pretoria North.
The five-member gang of black gunmen were fleeing at high speed, having just robbed the NWJ jewellery shop at the Kolonnade Shopping Centre – in broad daylight, at 9am.
Pretoria North’s SAPS statistics show that over the past seven years, there have been some 1,428 robberies reported in this police district alone – and 219 murders+homicides.
From March 2008 to April 2009 alone, there were 34 murders+homicides and 508 robberies of a vast variety, from ‘ordinary’ to ‘aggravated’ and ‘armed robberies of business premises’ - in the latest-available reporting period of March 2008 to April 2009. Later statistics are not available. http://www.saps.gov.za/statistics/reports/crimestats/2009/provinces/gauteng/pdf/pretorianorth.pdf
The local municipal police’s community safety department’s spokesman Console Tleane said the five gunmen had just robbed the jewellers’ when their getaway-Volvo collided with an oncoming Nissan Tiida, injuring its unknown number of occupants – who were taken to several area hospitals for treatment. Their current fate is unknown.
The gang then fled from their crashed Volvo, tried to hijack another car, leaving the loot behind -- and during which security guards started chasing them. The fleeing gang were still firing shots at the pursuing guards when police arrived and arrested two of the five gunmen. The crashed Volvo’s contents – loot from the jewellery robbery – also was recovered, police said. The unnamed occupants of the Nissan Tiida were taken by paramedics to several nearby hospitals, said Tleane. Their identities nor current condition are known. http://www.news24.com/Content/SouthAfrica/News/1059/5b38d6f808c04493a8467889b3bfb49c/20-10-2009-01-42/Robbery_at_Pretoria_mall
- When should the SAPS note down a traffic accident which was actually a murder?
- Please note: The injured Nissan occupants’ trauma injuries - even if they die from them later - will however officially be recorded as related to a traffic accident by Statistics SA – not due to any violence-related crime.