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Minister of South African Home Affairs is happy with public discourse around new immigration laws

By Estelle Vosloo

While the Department of Home Affairs have already lost more than one court case brought against them in terms of the new travel and immigration laws Minister Malusi Gigaba says the department plans to defend the laws and will also be appealing this court ruling.

Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba earlier this week said that the South African Department of Home Affairs was ready to deal with concerns and questions surrounding the controversial new travel and immigration regulations but it seems he meant something else.

QA Session Between Journalist And The Newly Appointed Minister Of Home Affairs

In a statement to the media Gigaba said his department would listen to all concerns but are still planning on defending any charges brought against the department in court.

The laws have also been contested by lawyers, immigration practitioners, businesses and advocacy groups representing immigrants.

Speaking at a business briefing hosted by The New Age and Transnet, Mr Gigaba said, "There was a time when the discourse around immigration was negative and many spoke of it as a nuisance. We are moving into migration management. We have a responsibility to be proactive. There are many positive contributions with this but there are also risks that we have had to consider.”

He added that he was "happy" with the "robust public discourse" around the new immigration and travel laws as it was evidence that ordinary South Africans were joining the discussion around policy formation, and that they were "thinking about these things and voicing their concerns,” added Gigaba.

"Ask me and I will meet you there. You can raise your issues but you cannot say that there was no consultation or that consultation was not constitutional. We believe that certain facts were not considered in the (High Court in Cape Town) judgment and we are going to appeal that decision. But we are willing to work with families where there are issues," he said.

The laws have also brought about changes that have caused administrative difficulties among diplomatic missions, foreign businesses and other government departments.

To concerns raised by Connie Peter, a director who works with diplomatic missions, Mr Gigaba said, "The regulations themselves often are not the problem. We are implementing a change management programme to assist officials in other countries. We have to train officials in consular services and Dirco (Department of International Relations and Co-operation) employees. We have good co-operation from that department."

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