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As a legal practitioner specialising exclusively in SA immigration and citizenship law since July 2005, I have been deeply involved in addressing various issues in this field. However, the current situation with the home affairs minister has reached unprecedented levels of frustration and disillusionment.

The minister’s tendency to deflect responsibility by blaming stakeholders for magnifying issues is concerning. Moreover, his inquiry into why his department would purposely harm the economy or tourism highlights a fundamental disconnect. While we lack all the answers, it’s evident that the department's actions indeed harm the economy and tourism. 

Many foreigners face near daily mistreatment by immigration control, either at foreign missions or border posts, raising questions about the department’s practices. Applications are often rejected for unlawful reasons, and processing delays worsen the situation. These aren’t just criticisms but real problems demanding attention and resolution.

The minister’s insinuation that lawyers like myself thrive on problems for financial gain is misguided. While he also earns from his position, addressing serious issues only increases our workload. Our aim in highlighting these concerns isn’t to assign blame but to facilitate positive change.

We implore the minister to stop being defensive and collaborate with stakeholders to address these issues. The absence of an Immigration Advisory Board, as mandated by law, is a glaring oversight which needs to be rectified. We seek clarity on its implementation and how stakeholders can contribute to its effectiveness.

Our attempts to engage with the minister have been met with silence, leading us to resort to litigation. In 2023 alone we launched almost 90 high court cases, and in 2024 we are already dealing with 10 more. Despite proactive efforts to avoid court cases and a positive meeting with senior officials discussing solutions, no progress has been made.

The minister’s recent media briefing on the blanket waiver raises further concerns. His interpretation contradicts the waiver's explicit terms, and his department’s unresponsiveness to ban removal requests undermines his sincerity. In addition, 66 of the minister’s employees filing grievances in the labour court adds another layer of concern, questioning leadership within the department.

Urgent and transparent action from the minister is needed to address these issues. The current lack of communication and action worsens an already dire situation. The minister must prioritise collaboration with stakeholders, adhere to the rule of law, and uphold the rights of all affected individuals.

Only through genuine dialogue and concerted effort can we overcome these challenges and foster a truly inclusive and welcoming SA.

Stefanie de Saude Darbandi
De Saude Darbandi Immigration Attorneys

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