Investigation into R400-million EOH tender heats up

The Department of Home Affairs and the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) faced criticism from the parliamentary portfolio committee on Home Affairs in a meeting on Tuesday 25 August.

The committee was unanimously critical of the delay in concluding an investigation into missing “master files” for tender that involved migrating data on the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) to a new Automated Biometric Information System (ABIS).

This tender was awarded by Sita to EOH in 2017 and was worth R409 million.

Speaking during the parliamentary committee meeting on Tuesday, Sita said that EOH had wanted to hand the contract over to a subcontractor, a request which the agency would not accept as it was irregular.

The committee also lambasted Sita for losing the tender’s master file, stating that it is concerning that the state’s custodian for technology could misplace a document this crucial to affirming the legitimacy of a contract.

It noted that the Department of Home Affairs only appointed an audit firm to investigate the EOH tender in May 2020, stating that this delay was unfortunate.

“We find the delay unfortunate in the context that the committee had made recommendations for the urgent conclusion of the matter,” committee chairperson Bongani Bongo said.

“The fact that the Department of Home Affairs has only in May 2020 appointed SAB&T audit firm to investigate the entire tender process is unsatisfactory in the context that it will delay the conclusion of the investigation and perpetuate irregular expenditure around the contract.”

Patience running thin

The committee noted that the loss of the master file by Sita has led to an erosion of its legitimacy, adding that it believes it has been accommodating to both Sita and the Department of Home Affairs and the assurances from both that the investigation should be concluded.

“We are in agreement that the matter must be dealt with urgently and those that are found to be in the wrong are brought to book,” Bongo said.

The committee added that while it welcomes the reform of control measures of its supply chain management, its “patience for the conclusion of this matter has lapsed”.

It has subsequently stated that the Department of Home Affairs, the Department of Communication and Digital Technologies, and Sita must give the committee clear progress in finalising the matter by the first week of October 2020.

“Furthermore, the committee has called for enhanced collaboration between the Department of Home Affairs and Department of Communications and Digital Technologies in finalising the investigation,” it said.

According to a report by EWN, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told the committee that he would not let this issue go.

“We can’t let this matter slip through our fingers, we can’t let it go,” he said.

“I am as angry as members here because I am now being dragged in front of this committee to try and answer questions about the deeds of other people.”

The report noted that Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams was unable to attend the meeting.

Table Mountain cableway to reopen

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway will reopen to domestic tourists from September 1.

MD, Wahida Parker, said the cableway would operate between 08h00 and 15h00 daily.

“Our goal is to ensure that every visitor has a world-class experience when enjoying the heritage and beauty of Table Mountain. We have taken every step to ensure that the health and safety of our visitors and staff remain our top priority,” said Parker.

Health and safety measures include a limit of 26 people plus the cabin master in the cable cars to ensure social distancing, deep cleaning of the cabins every 24 hours and sanitising after every ride. Guests will be required to wear masks and cashless transactions will be encouraged

Africa's people are under cyber attack and why we need more cyber security awareness and training on the continent

ITWeb Security Summit 2020 -  24 Aug 2020

Africa has become the new hunting ground for cyber criminals and fraudsters looking to exploit user vulnerabilities.

2019 KnowBe4 African Report found that Africa is increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks. The report highlighted how vulnerable users were when it came to recognising cyber threats and managing their risk profiles. In 2020, Accenture released a report entitled: ‘Insight into the Cyberthreat Landscape in South Africa’ that revealed there are around 577 attempted malware attacks every hour. Cyber crime has turned towards Africa and is putting its people and organisations at risk.

“With cyber crime shifting its attention towards emerging economies and with Africa’s Internet penetration about to double to one billion Internet users by 2022, the African continent has become an attractive target for cyber crime,” says Anna Collard, Managing Director of KnowBe4 Africa. “A lot of these users will be connecting for the first time and will have very little awareness of the risks.”

And the risks are extensive. The Accenture report pointed out that in 2019, many of the attacks were successful, particularly against well-known organisations and service utilities. This draws a picture of a worrying trend that can fundamentally affect the lives and livelihoods of people on the continent.

“Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the most financial transactions happening via mobile devices,” says Collard. “This is another reason why crime is paying attention. If users aren’t aware of the risks or don’t realise that their mobile devices put them at risk, then they are open to fraud and attack.”

ITWeb Security Summit 2020

Many people still think that mobile devices aren’t vulnerable to attack. They don’t realise that fake links, phishing e-mails, scams and malware are as easily perpetrated on a mobile device as they are on a PC. In fact, many cyber criminals use fake links and phishing messages to catch people who are unaware on WhatsApp or SMS. People are often more inclined to believe that a SMS or WhatsApp message is real and are lured into handing over important personal information using these channels.

“The problem is that many people can’t protect themselves because they don’t realise the extent of the threat or how to identify it,” says Collard. “They think they can – our survey found that around 55% of respondents believed they could identify a security threat and yet they gave away personal information or fell prey to scams. There is a desperate need for more education around cyber crime, how to identify it, and the methods that scammers use.”

The continent is lagging on security legislation and education, and is lacking security professionals who can support both business and government in refining their security postures and approaches.

“The high degree of digitisation, combined with the increase in mobile malware and sophistication of social engineering attacks, makes people more vulnerable than ever,” says Collard.

Training is essential in minimising risk. If people understand the processes and methods used by cyber criminals, they are more likely to identify them and to avoid making unnecessary mistakes.

“Training will help people to identify potential risks and be more alert before they commit to sharing information or clicking on images or links,” says Collard. “This can help Africa and its people push back against the rising tide of cyber crime and protect themselves and their personal information.

Virgin Atlantic will pay for medical treatment, quarantine, and funeral if you catch Covid-19

Virgin Atlantic announced that any travel booked directly through the airline between August 24, 2020, and March 31, 2021, will come with complimentary coronavirus insurance.

  • Virgin Atlantic will offer free Covid-19 insurance to all of its passengers who travel between 24 August 2020, and 31 March 2021.
  • The insurance covers medical expenses, quarantine costs, and repatriation if medically necessary.
  • It also covers the cost of repatriating your body and your funeral if you die from the virus.

In late July, Emirates announced that it would pay for travellers' medical treatment, hotel quarantine, and even funeral if they catch Covid-19 while traveling.

Now, Virgin Atlantic is introducing a similar policy. 

The airline announced on its website that passengers will get complimentary coronavirus insurance of up to £500,000 (R11 million) for travel between 24 August 2020 and 31 March 2021.

Passengers are eligible for the insurance on Virgin Atlantic flights during this window whether or not they've already booked, according to the airline, provided their travel is booked through Virgin Atlantic directly.

Working with insurance company Allianz Assistance, Virgin Atlantic's website says that its Covid-19 coverage extends to all coronavirus-related costs, from medical expenses to mandatory quarantine. And, in a worst-case scenario, up to £5,000 (R110,000) of funeral expenses are covered.

According to Virgin Atlantic, the insurance will take effect "with no restrictions on age, travel class, or length of journey." Once you land at your destination, you are free to use other modes of transportation and visit other destinations and still be covered, the airline's website says, as long as your return flight is also booked through Virgin Atlantic.

For one-way trips, the airline says the insurance will last 12 hours after the arrival time of the traveler's last flight. However, it's worth noting that this does not apply to one-way flights that take off on 31 March and land on 1 April.

One other thing to note: The insurance covers all bookings made through Virgin Atlantic, even if flights are operated by partners such as Delta, Air France, and KLM. However, according to Virgin Atlantic's website, "If you purchased your ticket from or any another airline's website, even if they are a partner airline of Virgin Atlantic, you will not be covered, even if one or more flights of your journey is on a Virgin Atlantic aircraft."

According to Virgin Atlantic's website, the policy does not have any exclusions for those with pre-existing medical conditions.

With coverage of up to R11 million, the policy has a higher cap than that of Emirates, which says it covers up to around R3 million through 31 October 2020. 

You can find out more about Virgin Atlantic's complimentary coronavirus insurance on the airline's website.

Representatives for Virgin Atlantic did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

These Home Affairs services are available during level 2

Johannesburg – The Home Affairs Department has announced more services which will be  available during level 2 of the lockdown.

Home Affairs has been operating under reduced capacity since the lockdown was implemented in March.

During level 2, Home Affairs said it was resuming services for applications of first issue green bar-coded identity documents or smart ID cards, applications for smart ID cards or green bar-coded IDs by people who had been issued with a temporary ID certificate during the national state of disaster that has expired; applications for amendments of personal particulars, applications for rectification of personal particulars, back office records retrieval services, and applications for citizenship.

Home Affairs said it was also extending the expiry date until October 31, 2020, for all temporary identity certificates issued during the period of the national state of disaster.

During the level 3 of the lockdown, which ended on Monday night, Home Affairs had resumed services for the registration of birth, re-issuing of birth certificates, late birth registrations, marriage services, death certificates, temporary identity document certificates, collection of IDs and passports for essential goods cross-border transporters.

All services permitted under level 3, 4, and 5, will be permitted during level 2.

A spokesperson for Home Affairs was not immediately available for comment on Friday morning.