ISSUE 01 | 2016
Thank you, Baetapele!
Happy New Year to those I have not as yet met this year! I trust we all are raring to go. Fortunately or unfortunately, Home Affairs does not wind down, or wind up at the turn of the calendar year. We opened 2016 full-steam given that many among us went through the festive period with no break, hard at work, ensuring the millions of travelers using our ports of entry reached their destinations smoothly, with little, if any, hiccups.
As we commence the year 2016, it is appropriate to extend to all of you a cheerful hail and good wishes for the year ahead. I know that we’ve come this far largely due to the exemplary work you have done diligently in the service of Home Affairs, our government and our people in general.
For this we thank you most deeply.
I would like to convey a special ‘Thanks!’ to our immigration officials for their hard work over the festive period. At our first Media Briefing in the New Year, held on 12 January, I reported that from 1 December 2015 to 7 January 2016, over 5 million travellers went through our ports of entry – much higher than in 2014 and 2015.
Contrary to perceptions in some quarters, there was an increase in the number of arrivals. If you look at the period 1 December to 7 January, you will realise that in 2013/14, a total of 1,850,339 foreigners arrived in the country. In 2014/15 this number increased slightly to 1,872,298. But in 2015/16 we had over 2 million (2,003,509) arriving in the country. This is an increase of over 7% in arrivals.
The traveller movements I have alluded to, in and out of the Republic, our officials facilitated remarkably, some under harsh conditions, at far-flung borders of the country, with inadequate physical infrastructure and systems. The top nationalities arriving in the country were from Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, United Kingdom, Germany, USA and Namibia.
Another milestone that should make us proud is the biometric pilot programme at the four airports – Lanseria, King Shaka, Cape Town and OR Tambo International Airports. We launched this pilot project officially at OR Tambo last December. Linked to this was the discontinuation of the Transit Visa at these air ports of entry. Subsequent to this, we are working hard to roll-out the biometric capture at the land ports of entry, which would result in us discontinuing the transit visa altogether.
I’m very grateful also to staff in Civic Affairs, for helping SA travelers, parents and school children with passports and Unabridged Birth Certificates in this period. The work that they do, also with stakeholders, including the partnerships with banks and insurance companies around identity theft, is remarkable.
I must give a special mention to the Randburg office, as clients consistently give me positive feedback on various platforms – in person and on social media – on the good service they receive there. Clients appreciate that the staff go the extra mile to serve them efficiently and courteously, and to resolve their issues without sending them from pillar to post. Well done Randburg! To our officials reading this note around the country, you should applaud your colleagues and serve your own clients such that the next compliment I receive will be about your own office. Let us end this inconsistency which means clients receive stellar service in one of our offices, and indifferent or poor service in another office.
I want to see rapid changes in the manner in which we respond and attend to clients’ requests for services, in particular, registering birth and issuing birth certificates, Smart ID Cards, passports and permits.
It is through the efforts of dedicated DHA cadres that we can keep the country safe while attracting travellers for better economic prospects. With all your support, in 2016 we aspire for even higher efficiency with regard to identity and migration management.
I trust that in your space, within the Department and in your communities, you’ll do more to assist citizens to register and cast their votes in the upcoming Local Government Elections. You have a critical role to play in advancing people’s power. Ensuring that our citizens have the requisite documents with which to cast their votes is a vital part of this endeavour.
Going-forward, remember that every application you process for an ID or Smart ID Card will impact greatly on the applicant’s democratic rights and enjoyment of all other rights enshrined in our Bill of Rights.
I’m confident that 2016 will be a good year for DHA because of your support and dedication, in spite of the daunting challenges we face as DHA, government and broader society. Among these is the difficult financial and economic situation in the country.
Already we are responding to the latter challenge, around budgets. The DG should be able soon to speak to you in detail on these issues and how they are impacting on the Department.
Once more, I wish you and your families a great year.
Minister of Home Affairs