Home Af­fairs swamped with cases

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA

THE HOME Af­fairs De­part­ment is be­ing slapped with about 50 cases of lit­i­ga­tion on a weekly ba­sis, deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral for in­sti­tu­tional plan­ning and sup­port Thu­lani Mavuso said.

Now the de­part­ment is hir­ing legally qual­i­fied peo­ple who will be placed in the di­rec­torates of im­mi­gra­tion af­fairs and civic ser­vices to mon­i­tor and act quickly on lit­i­ga­tion-re­lated is­sues.

“On a weekly ba­sis we have to re­spond and in­struct state at­tor­neys to de­fend mat­ters. Some of them are op­por­tunis­tic lit­i­ga­tions,” Mavuso said.

He made the comments af­ter de­part­ment of­fices in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, were closed when the sher­iff of the court at­tached its goods last month.

This was af­ter a for­eign na­tional took the de­part­ment to court for wrong­ful ar­rest and was granted a de­fault judg­ment of R150 000, which the de­part­ment is now seek­ing to re­scind.

It has been re­ported in the past how the de­part­ment wasted mil­lions in tax­pay­ers’ money on court bat­tles.

The de­part­ment had re­vealed in a par­lia­men­tary reply that it spent R46.3 mil­lion on legal costs in 2011/2012, and R21.3m was spent in the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year.

In 2014, out of 404 judgments that were granted by the courts, 385 were made against the de­ten­tions of il­le­gal for­eign­ers at the Lin­dela Repa­tri­a­tion Cen­tre in Krugers­dorp or failed asy­lum seek­ers who filed ju­di­cial reviews against such re­jec­tions.

Mavuso said there were in­stances where peo­ple fly into OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port, only to be met by lawyers, ready to take the de­part­ment to court.

“It is quite bad in a sense that those op­por­tunis­tic lit­i­ga­tions, ac­tu­ally in the area of im­mi­gra­tion, are quite huge,” Mavuso said.

“The same ap­plies when peo­ple are ar­rested for fraud­u­lent doc­u­ments or doc­u­ments that are in­valid and then taken to Lin­dela,” he added.

“You have lawyers who make Lin­dela a hunt­ing ground for those cases,” he said.

Mavuso also said the high vol­ume of lit­i­ga­tion was cre­at­ing huge ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sues in the de­part­ment.

“Peo­ple use the law to say these are their con­sti­tu­tional rights and we need to de­fend the cases. Some­times we de­fend things which are ac­tu­ally a waste of money.”

Deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral for civic ser­vices Vusumuzi Mkhize said the ca­pac­ity of the de­part­ment was be­ing strength­ened.

“We re­cently cre­ated posts for the core busi­ness in im­mi­gra­tion and civic to have a legal per­son to deal with any mat­ter re­lat­ing to lig­a­tion,” Mkhize said.

When the de­part­ment pre­sented its budget to Par­lia­ment ear­lier this year, it noted the lack of ca­pac­ity in its legal ser­vices, risk man­age­ment, in­for­ma­tion ser­vices, fi­nan­cial man­age­ment and counter cor­rup­tion and se­cu­rity ser­vices.

Its 2017/18 an­nual per­for­mance plan said there was a phased restruc­tur­ing of staff ac­cord­ing to a plan pro­posed by a con­sult­ing firm to in­crease the pro­por­tion of spe­cial­ists and pri­ori­tise posts.

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