By: Amanda Visser2011-05-22 13:19
Pretoria - The department of home affairs' residence permit system is in total disarray.
That is the principal reason for an urgent application lodged against the department, its minister and its director general in the Western Cape High Court.
The application has been submitted by a Cape firm of attorneys, Eisenberg & Associates, two individuals and another immigration company, Visa One.
Gary Eisenberg from the firm of attorneys said the application was being submitted on behalf of 108 applicants who had all been waiting for longer than six months for their permanent residence permits to be processed.
In the court papers he said that applications had previously always been handled within six months. Now they simply disappeared or were never heard of again.
In February this year Eisenberg had also turned to the court because of delays with temporary residence permits.
That action had been instituted after it had come to light that 70% of more than 400 applications for temporary permits had vanished.
In a sworn statement Eisenberg said that the department appeared to be either unwilling or unable to do anything to trace the applications.
Some of the applications had been submitted five years ago. That was, he said, with respect, a travesty of justice and an embarrassment for South Africa.
In the court documents Eisenberg said that the struggle with permanent residence permits had been characterised by a total lack of support or even simple interest.
The court documents state that, from July 2010 to the present, innumerable email messages and other correspondence, as well as several telephone messages, had failed to elicit any reaction.
A total of 108 outstanding applications for permanent residence made up the court application.
The two individuals who have joined the court application are Yung-Li Yen from Taiwan and Fokelina Wijngaarden from Holland.
Yen is a fisherman who first came to South Africa in 1974. In October 1992 he married his South African bride, Narriman, from Cape Town.
The first of their three daughters was born in 1986. In 2007 he applied for his permanent residence permit after being advised by department staff to do so.
Wijngaarden and her life partner, Jan Koornneef, had opted for retirement in South Africa. Koornneef’s application (which was basically the same as hers) was processed six months after submission, but Wijngaarden has been waiting for two years.
The court papers ask the court to set a deadline for the processing of the outstanding applications.
The applicants claim an application unprocessed after six months is “unreasonably overdue”.
Eisenberg and the other applicants have asked for their application to be heard on June 28.
Leon Isaacson, chairperson of the Forum for Immigration Practitioners (Fipsa), told Sake24 that there had been a definite increase in overdue applications.