10 December 2012

South Africa: Home Affairs Continues to Ignore Public Protector

press release

The Department of Home Affairs continues to ignore the recommendations and suggested remedial action outlined by the Public Protector in her report on maladministration and abuse of power in the Department. This will lead to yet another costly court battle for the Department which has already seen its legal costs double over the last two financial years.

The Public Protector's investigation stemmed from a complaint from a Dutch family which has been living in South Africa since 1996 and has had continuous problems with Home Affairs' immigration service.

The family has been waiting for residence and work permits since March 2003. The lack of permits has resulted in court action against Mr van Hillegondsberg and a hefty fine for his son.

The Public Protector's investigation found undue delays on the application for permits by the family which was deemed to be both an abuse of power and maladministration.

The Public Protector instructed remedial action to be taken on this matter by 24 May 2012. A parliamentary reply has revealed that this was only responded to in June 2012.

The instruction from the Public Protector was that a remedy be provided to the complainant; charges laid as well as the fines imposed against the complainant and his family should be withdrawn. Instead, the Department has failed to provide permits to the family and charges have not been withdrawn but suspended.

The family intends to take this matter to court.

It is cases like these that are costing the Department ridiculous amounts of money on legal fees. The Department spent R46.3 million on legal costs in 2011/2012. These costs are largely attributable to the fact that the Department's immigration services are poorly managed and that they continuously fail to comply with court orders.

The new Home Affairs Minister, Naledi Pandor, must do what her predecessor Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma failed to do. Instead of wasting more of the public's money, she should simply follow legislation and process this straight-forward application.

Manny de Freitas, Shadow Minister of Home Affairs

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