We Stand With Orlando

South African based human rights organization People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) offers our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and communities affected by the horrific event that took place at Pulse in Orlando, Florida. We would like to express our profound shock and sorrow as we join millions across the globe in grieving for those who lost their lives.

PASSOP continues to stand in solidarity and support with the LGBTQ community, and also continues to stand up against Islamaphobia. As an organization based outside of the United States we cannot claim to know any intricate details of what transpired, but we can see clearly that such a tragedy must be handled very carefully to bring people together, not to divide them. It is our plea to the people during this painful time, that they resist the demonization of any community and that they remind the world of our humanity and interconnectedness. If there is to be a focus of frustration let it be on the ease at which the perpetrator was able to access such heavy artillery.

There has been a long and tragic history of violence at LGBTQ bars and clubs in the United States (and many other countries); we can only imagine how triggering this event has been on the community. It is already difficult to exist in this world as a minority, something both the Muslim community and the LGBTQ community know well, such terrible violation of your safe space must be devastating, we send our deepest sympathies to both these communities. We support the movement in the United States to pass effective gun control laws, and hope to see that day soon.

PASSOP wants to reiterate its commitment to advancing peace and the condemnation of violence and hatred. We further reject attempts to generalize any community based on the actions of individuals, we call upon media, particularly media within the US, to be careful in their coverage of this horrific event and to avoid further hate or creating stigma of and tensions between two vulnerable communities.

We join the absolute majority of the world when we say “let us stand together in the fight against homophobia, xenophobia, Islamaphobia, hate and senseless violence.”

For comment contact:

bernard@passop.co.za

As we remember the heroic youth in South Africa who died for freedom on June 16th 1976, we will be joining the vigil in solidarity with the people of Orlando and the world. Please join us.

Thursday 16 June 2016, at the Pride Shelter: 1 Molteno rd, Oranjezicht, 5:30pm

 Concerns About Gupta Gigaba Visa Attack

While PASSOP shares and understands the concerns of many South Africans regarding allegations of corruption and abuse of state resources, we are disappointed with those in opposition and the media who have portrayed anti-immigration sentiments and xenophobia in their attack against Minister Malusi Gigaba. The Minister has been accused of several things, and although we are not privy to detailed information, we know that many of the allegations refer to decisions made during the preceding Minister’s term. PASSOP is particularly concerned that people from other SADC countries who are currently living in South Africa with no documentation and are being offered illegal methods to legalize their stay in South Africa—which is only a money making ruse. Selfish tactics such as this are an insult to the thousands of beneficiaries and demonizes their legalization process. The documentation project, which is aimed to extend Zimbabwean’s permits, was done at a reduced rate and was accepted by civil society when the fee was announced. The new process was largely accepted as it was less cumbersome than the previous permit extension process where Zimbabweans would have to return to Zimbabwe to apply for an extension.

PASSOP appeals to the media and those in opposition to avoid bringing immigrations into any scandal placing them at risk. Over 270,000 immigrants are legally sound and must not be put into question. The allegation that “Gigaba and Guptas will allow South Africa to flood, because they are earning money from their documents” is an extremist anti-immigration viewpoint and dangerous in South Africa. Those opposed must realize that this is not an acceptable way to raise concerns around any issue. If there is any corruption it must be dealt with professionally, but using immigrants in public sound bites is intolerable.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Bernard Toyambi at 073 121 9625.

PASSOP Calls for an Extension of Lesotho Special Permit Closing Date

PASSOP is appealing to the Department of Home Affairs for an extension of the Lesotho Special Permit (LSP) until 30 September 2016, following the media statement made by Minister Malusi Gigaba during his visit to the Lesotho Special Permit Centre on Tuesday 10 May 2016. According to the Department of Home Affairs and Lesotho’s National Population Register, there are between 400,000 to 500,000 Basotho’s living and working in South Africa. Unfortunately, as Minister Gigaba was briefed by VFS management on the levels of applications since the process was opened in February 2016 only 5,694 applications have been successfully submitted which less than 2% of the number of Basotho living in South Africa. PASSOP believes that the extension of project is necessary and imperative in order to find a way to spread the message to the Basotho nationals living in South Africa because it will be unrealistic to complete the process by 30 June 2016. Our experience in De Doorns provides evidence that most of Basotho nationals are not well informed about the programme and therefore, they are facing several challenges including difficulties with completing the online application and a lack of adequate and reliable transport from De Doorns to Cape Town (~ 200km) in order to submit their applications.

Moreover, PASSOP condemns the negative behavior of some employers who refuse to issue letters of employment to their employees which would allow them to finalize the application process.  We appeal to employers to issue their employees with letters of employment. We reiterate our support to Minister Malusi’s comment “We want to see the Basotho becoming a part of South African society without fear of deportation and to formalize their stay in South Africa.” PASSOP believes that the Special Dispensation Project will be also extended to other SADC Countries after Lesotho.
 

Lesotho Special Permit

The Ministry of Home Affairs in Lesotho and the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa have created a Lesotho Special Permit for Lesotho Nationals who are illegally residing in South Africa. The program initially would end on 30 June 2016, but with the low number of applicants, both governments will likely extend the deadline. All applicants need only have resided in South Africa before 30 September 2015 and meet the listed qualifications to be eligible for the special permit.

This is a great opportunity for Lesotho natives to obtain legal documentation while living in South Africa.

If you have any questions, please contact PASSOP at Offic@Passop.co.za.

Special Permit

PASSOP–Empowerment for Parents of Disabled Children 

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On Saturday, May 28, 2016, PASSOP hosted a Parents Empowerment Seminar specifically targeting parents who have children with disabilities. The meeting was well attended with over twenty parents from countries including, but not limited to South Africa, Rwanda, DRC, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. The program highlighted four primary issues that parents often face when caring for children with disabilities including: documentation/permit issues, lack of employment opportunities, difficulties with funding their children’s education, and tensions with Home Affairs.

The meeting began with introductions by the Project Coordinator, Wilson Tarusanra, PASSOP Director Bernard Toyambi, and PASSOP Chairperson of the Board members Mr. Braam Hanekom. Each spoke about the importance of creating and sustaining a group that caters to parents of children with disabilities and PASSOP’s commitment to ensuring the retention of the program. The keynote speaker for the session was Dr. Judith McKenzie who works in community initiatives to address issues including poverty, exclusion, and disability in South Africa. In 1993, when her son was born with Down Syndrome, Dr. McKenzie became a leader and activist for children with disabilities. Dr. McKenzie spoke about the troubles many parents face when having a child with disabilities including, difficulties with finding and retaining adequate employment, the struggle of finding and funding a private school education that caters to the needs of children with disabilities, and the necessity of emotional and physical support for the children’s parents.

During the meeting, parents discussed long and short term goals that would assist them financially by being able to support their children while not having to be separated from them for an extended period of time. It was suggested that the parents generate their income from learned skills that will allow them to work from home such as sewing, knitting, and pastry baking. Likewise, some mothers suggested it would be beneficial to create a learning center for children with disabilities and the parents will be able to teach the children while charging parents a small fee. Overall, the most important need expressed by parents is their need of physical and emotional support. Many of the parents with disabled children do not have family and very few friends to lean on in their time of need and are often alone during long hospital stays.

To ensure the continued success of the program, a steering committee was formed by the project coordinator and several parents who will discuss a plan of action and follow up with participants in the coming weeks.

To find out more information about the program, please contact PASSOP at office@passop.co.za.