During the past years we have witnessed a steady decline in the quality of adjudication from the Department of Home Affairs. However, the amount of unjustified rejections which clients have received during the past 6 months are at an absolute record high. 90% of the rejections are unjustified and therefore a very high number of appeals is being submitted. This has caused a very very serious backlog in the appeals section. Even though the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba vehemently denies (The Citizen) that there is a backlog, a reliable source has informed us that the Department is only now dealing with appeal applications which were submitted mid-last year (June 2014). This has made our work difficult because we are tasked to constantly make follow ups with Home Affairs and getting hold of anyone there is nearly impossible.

We were informed that Home Affairs officials have a backlog of hundreds of applications in the appeal saection.. We believe this to be true because the appeals we submitted on behalf of clients around July 2014 still have not been attended to. It becomes particularly problematic when dealing with clients from abroad, who are used to efficiency in all their administrative matters.

The Minister further averred that businesses would not be affected by the situation faced by the Department. This has however not been the case with immigration companies as they have to continuously explain to clients why their documents have not been processed. Due to the Department’s failure to meet its statutory obligations, last year, immigration practitioners and a few other individuals took it upon themselves to take the Department of Home Affairs to the High Court. The Department placed the blame on its administrative capacity.

There is a serious need for the Home Affairs officials to read and understand the immigration regulations so that they do not reject applications without just cause. The reasons for rejections we see are indicating either a very bad training or just a plain disregard of the law. The demand of South African police clearances although the applicant has not been in South Africa for more than one year is a very common mistake; some rejection letters are giving no reason for the rejection, but only quote the law.

The slow processing of appeals has resulted in the violation of peoples constitutional rights. Section 33 of the Constitution grants the right to just administrative action. This goes to say that administrative actions should be done with a certain degree of efficiency. Should the application be declined, the applicant has a right to be given written reason as to why the department reached that outcome.

In conclusion, if you submitted an appeal, you will have to wait quite some time for the outcome.

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by Nkazie Nyathi

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