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Migrants Suffer as South Africa’s Refugee System Crumbles

By Darren Taylor

Migration specialist Roni Amit calls South Africa’s policy towards migrants in recent years “the securitization of immigration.”
Amit, who is a senior researcher at the Center for African Migration and Society at Johannesburg’s Wits University, says “there’s just this increased sense that we need to protect our borders and stop people from coming in. There’s this perception that there’s a flood of African migrants coming into the country and that we need to restrict that and keep them out and that they are a drain on the economy.”

The U.N. Refugee Agency [UNHCR] says South Africa receives more applications for asylum than any other country in the world.

The South African government’s unofficial attitude is that the country has enough problems of its own – including mass unemployment and poverty, frequent labor unrest and popular uprisings against the state’s failure to provide basic services – and cannot be expected to help shoulder the continent’s immense burden of migrants.

So immigration controls have been tightened significantly in recent years.

Economic migrants VS refugees

Amit maintained that the number of foreigners, especially those of African origin, said to be overwhelming South Africa is “inflated.”

“We did a study a few years ago and it found that there were four to five million foreigners in the country. That’s documented and undocumented,” she said.

UNHCR statistics show that most asylum applications in South Africa are from citizens of African countries that have been torn by crises, such as Zimbabwe, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. There’s also a steady stream of Angolans, Burundians, Ethiopians, Mozambicans and Rwandese, among others.

The agency said about 480,000 foreigners are currently seeking asylum in South Africa.

But the Department of Home Affairs [DHA] rejects most applications for refugee status on the basis that the applicants are merely looking for work in South Africa, not fleeing conflicts and political repression.

“Unfortunately the Department of Home Affairs likes to say that most people [migrants], like 96 percent coming [into South Africa], are economic migrants. But there’s actually no basis for that number,” said Amit. “There are some economic migrants, but there are also people who have fled persecution or have fled civil war. But those people aren’t getting recognized in the asylum system.”

No protection for refugees

The researcher said the DHA had recently combined the immigration and asylum systems.

“They should be two separate, parallel things,” Amit insisted. “Now they’ve merged and they are really using the asylum system as a method of immigration control. So there really is no effective refugee protection in the country anymore.”

The UNHCR said as of December 2010 the DHA had recognized 58,000 people as refugees. According to immigration analysts, the number hasn’t increased significantly since then, with the vast majority of asylum claims being rejected and the DHA not providing documentation that would allow migrants to temporarily remain in South Africa.

The DHA did not respond to repeated requests from VOA for comment but has previously denied that it’s purposefully withholding the necessary permits from foreigners seeking residence in South Africa.

Amit, however, said growing numbers of migrants, unable to secure documents, are “going underground,” with grave consequences for them.

“Then they’re at risk of arrest and detention and deportation and that’s really dangerous because then they’ll be deported back to the situation that they fled from, which was unsafe to begin with. There have been some stories of some Congolese who were sent back [to the DRC] and were detained and I think some were even killed.”

Knowing they have little chance of getting official papers, Amit said, more migrants are now crossing South Africa’s borders illegally. This makes them vulnerable to criminal gangs who prey on them, robbing, raping and murdering them.

Ignorance of the law

Amit recently completed a study of official refusals of residence to migrants at refugee reception offices across South Africa.
.
“In terms of the decisions [made by immigration officials], they get the law completely wrong. They have no understanding of the legal requirements for asylum and refugee status. They’ll cut and paste something [from the internet] from a country where the law’s completely different and it’ll say the exact opposite of what South Africa’s refugee law says,” said Amit.

Migrants often report that immigration officers demand that they produce identity documents in order to apply for refugee status, even though this is not a requirement to seek asylum in South Africa and is not part of the UN Refugee Convention.

“Whether that’s a lack of knowledge or just outright defiance of the law is hard to say,” Amit said.

She added that the DHA has also been denying entry to asylum seekers based on the assertion that they should have applied for asylum in the first “safe country” they reached. Yet no such principle exists in domestic or international law.

Migrants, analysts and immigration lawyers have maintained that corruption is widespread in DHA offices countrywide.

“Certainly there are a lot of people at Lindela, the detention center for foreigners, who were arrested with valid documents and who were asked for bribes by the police and by immigration officials,” said Amit.

Ineffective strategy

The researcher insisted that the South African government’s apparent view of migrants as a threat to the country is counterproductive.

“There needs to be greater recognition of the fact that the migrants are contributing to the economy and they’re not just a drain on the economy,” she said.

Amit pointed out that with better mechanisms for regularizing the status of migrants entering South Africa, both the country and the continent would benefit.

“South Africa needs to realize it’s never going to be able to keep people out and just adopting increasingly restrictive measures aimed at just keeping people out is never going to be effective; it’s just going to be a waste of money. But I think until they have that change in mindset, it’s going to be difficult to accomplish anything,” she said.

At the moment, however, a stalemate plays itself out daily in South Africa and on the borders of Africa’s most powerful economy…with desperate migrants doing everything possible to enter a country that they’re convinced will offer them better lives, and state officials doing everything in their power to keep them out.

Voice of America

 


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Military remote controlled flying ambulance truck to recover injured soldiers

It utilizes the vertical take off and landing of a helicopter and couples it with the off road driving capabilities of a truck.

And, what’s even better, is that this robotic warrior is remote controlled.

Introducing Black Night Transformer, a specially made truck that comes complete with eight rotors – four on each side – that will spring out for take off and then fold in while driving.

The machine was built as part of a U.S. military desire for a ‘multi-mission medical and casualty evacuation unmanned air vehicle/unmanned ground vehicle’, according to Pop Science.

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The U.S. military have commissioned the creation of a vehicle that can drive and fly remotely so it can be sent on missions unmannedThe U.S. military have commissioned the creation of a vehicle that can drive and fly remotely so it can be sent on missions unmanned

 

The Black Knight Transformer features eight rotors that expand when necessary and fold away while on the groundThe Black Knight Transformer features eight rotors that expand when necessary and fold away while on the ground

 

Road test: Creators Advanced Tactics say they have tested the driving capabilites of the 'Transformer' and will test its flight by the end of FebruaryRoad test: Creators Advanced Tactics say they have tested the driving capabilites of the ‘Transformer’ and will test its flight by the end of February

 

Essentially it meets the need of an autombile that can adapt to a variety of situations.

An American government study on medical evacuation concluded that the use of robots in military missions will allow for casualty evacuations in areas and times that manned platforms should not operate in, such as ‘zero-zero’ weather and contaminated environments.

Once the Black Knight reaches its target, its also possible for the controls to be switched and for it to be driven by a human.

Overall, it reduces the risks involved with many missions.

The Black Knight is also designed for cargo delivery.

As per its design, the Black Night Transformer is able to shrink down its helicopter engines so that it is more drivableAs per its design, the Black Night Transformer is able to shrink down its helicopter engines so that it is more drivable

 

Testy: A prototype takes flight during initial testingsTesty: A prototype takes flight during initial testings

 

Tests will hopefully determine by the end of February whether the Black Knight Transformer could be implented into the U.S. military in the futureTests will hopefully determine by the end of February whether the Black Knight Transformer could be implented into the U.S. military in the future

 

An artist inpression by developer Advanced Tactics shows what they plan the AT Transformer to look likeAn artist inpression by developer Advanced Tactics shows what they plan the AT Transformer to look like

 

Advanced Tactics, an El Segundo-based firm, plans to test a remotely operated, transforming, flying, driving evacuation vehicle early this year

‘The U.S. Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory is interested in using the Black Knight vehicle for unmanned cargo resupply missions,’ Advanced Tactics chief engineer Rustom Jehangir tells Popular Science.

‘They’ve done work on this in the past with other platforms, such as the Lockheed Martin K-Max, but our platform will be much less expensive.’

The driving components were tested in late 2013, while the flying aspects will be tested before the end of February.

The Black Knight Transformer would allow the military to enter and exit dangerous areas without having to send in soldiersThe Black Knight Transformer would allow the military to enter and exit dangerous areas without having to send in soldiers

In November, it was reported that U.S. soldiers in combat had made a request for drones that could be launched by hand.

It prompted the Pentago to commission three-dozen micro-drones that resemble birds.

Prioria Robotics of Florida announced at the time the US Army Rapid Equipping Force, or REF, awarded them $4.5 million in federal contracts to deliver to the Department of Defense 36 models of the company’s Maveric unmanned aerial vehicle by December.

Each Maveric can soar through the sky at speeds up to 55 knots and has the ability to offer soldiers an array of advantageous features.

Each aircraft weighs roughly two-and-a-half pounds, and according to the Army News Service, the Maveric’s flexible wings help enable the UAV to blend into its surroundings.

In November, the Pentagon ordered 36 drones known as 'Mavericks' that could be hand launched and were fitted with cameras for reconnaissance missionsIn November, the Pentagon ordered 36 drones known as ‘Mavericks’ that could be hand launched and were fitted with cameras for reconnaissance missions

Almost there: The truck-mounted laser weapons the army hope will prove to be a game-changer on the battlefield

Then in December, the Army successfully tested a futuristic laser weapon capable of shooting football-sized mortar rounds.

The truck-mounted weapon, known as the High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), gives a hint at what a weapon of the future could look like.

Using an invisible laser beam to exact targets, the rounds are capable of taking down drones from the sky and even missiles. Almost there: The truck-mounted laser weapons the army hope will prove to be a game-changer on the battlefield

In November, the Pentagon ordered 36 drones known as ‘Mavericks’ that could be hand launched and were fitted with cameras for reconnaissance missions

During tests, a ‘quarter-sized’ invisible laser beam successfully targeted and destroyed more than 90 incoming mortar rounds and six to seven unmanned drones.

Terry Bauer, the project manager for the laser program, told ABC News the test results were ‘above and beyond’ what they had expected going into the testing.

‘We had no thoughts that this 10-kilowatt would be as successful n doing that as it has been,’ he said.

Mortars are common battlefield weapons that are hard to protect against because they can be fired from short distances.

The mortars used in the test were standard 60 millimeter rounds – the length of a football — fired from a distance of less than two kilometers in salvos of two to three mortar rounds each.

The laser’s success rate against incoming mortar shells indicates that battlefield protection from the small explosive rounds could be possible in a few years.

DM


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South African president Zuma reveals he used to practice witchcraft against white people

By DAN NEWLING

  • Told crowd in his native Zulu language at a pre-election rally
  • Zuma spoke in village of KaNyamazane in Mpumalanga province
  • Reportedly said he used to ‘bewitch the Boers during apartheid’

 

South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma has told how he used to practise witchcraft against white people.

Speaking in his native Zulu language at a pre-election rally in the country’s rural north, he told a crowd of his voodoo past.

‘I used to practise witchcraft around here, bewitching the Boers during apartheid’, Zuma reportedly said.

Revelation: South Africa's president Jacob Zuma has told how he used to practise witchcraft against white peopleRevelation: South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma has told how he used to practise witchcraft against white people

 

Speaking in his native Zulu language at a pre-election rally in the country's rural north, he told a crowd of his voodoo pastSpeaking in his native Zulu language at a pre-election rally in the country’s rural north, he told a crowd of his voodoo past

 

President Zuma spoke in the village of KaNyamazane, in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province on Wednesday.

 

He promised the crowd that if his African National Congress (ANC) party was re-elected into power with over 90 per cent of the popular vote, he would come back to the village to slaughter cows in celebration.

‘When the elections are over, I’m coming again. If you give us 90 per cent upwards during the elections, we are coming here to slaughter cows. Less than 90 per cent, I don’t come.’

South Africa President Jacob Zuma (second left), the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela Madikizela (left), and the widow of Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel (third left) sit by the coffin of Nelson Mandela during his funeral ceremonySouth Africa President Jacob Zuma (second left), the ex-wife of Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela Madikizela (left), and the widow of Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel (third left) sit by the coffin of Nelson Mandela during his funeral ceremony

 

Zuma also told the crowd that the ANC would continue to run South Africa ‘for ever’.

‘We will continue to run this government forever and ever. Whether they (detractors) like it or not!’ Zuma said.

Although South Africa’s ANC government is predicted to win this year’s election with around 60 per cent of the vote, it is forecast to lose a great deal of popular support.

The past five years have seen widespread economic strife in South Africa.

The former liberation party has also been embroiled in a series of highly damaging corruption scandals.

 

President Zuma is also widely perceived has having personally profited from his presidency by building a lavish £10 million homestead with what is alleged to be taxpayers’ money.

Jacob Zuma played a significant role in the ANC’s struggle against apartheid, working as a commander of the movement’s armed wing, the uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK).

As part of his underground work for the MK, he travelled incognito around South Africa, helping plot military exercises against apartheid targets.

Many South African political commentators have expressed fears that Zuma’s and the ANC’s growing unpopularity may see him and the party try to play on South Africans’ racial fears to win support.

cPresident Zuma is also widely perceived has having personally profited from his presidency by building a lavish £10 million homestead with what is alleged to be taxpayers’ money

– “DM”


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