With the first school holidays after the implementation of the new visa rules for travelling with children now past us, we can try to give some feedback based on personal experience of ourselves, friends and the media.

Traditionally South Africans travel abroad a lot during the June/July school holidays. The airports are full of families with children, going on safaris or beach holidays in neighbouring countries, exploring Europe, North America (Disneyland…) or even some Asian resorts in Bali or Thailand.

There are also a lot of school tours going, from rugby to hockey to other cultural travels, typically without any parents, just teachers. Although many South Africans desperately tried to prepare the various paperwork as requested, predictably the chaos erupted (see attached article below).

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picture source: http://www.biznews.com

And once again, the sole blame must be laid at the door of Home Affairs. Besides that an overwhelming amount of evidence has now come up in Parliament, that there is no logical basis nor reason for the introduction of this draconian law, as there was only 23 cases reported of child trafficking during the last 3 years, the practical implementation has been a disaster.

As the seasons of tourism go, for now only some 50 million South Africans have been inconvenienced. But as the temperatures in SA will raise, those regulations are going to hit the rest of our globe, some 7 billion potential visitors. And SA has always be known to be a family friendly holiday destination.

The Department of Home Affairs only published it’s final guideline late in May this year. Much debate happened before and of course now everybody is confused. Home Affairs itself issues contradicting statements. The officials at the boarder posts simply have no clue and make up their own wild interpretations.

How are they supposed to understand a divorce decree in Mandarin, giving sole custody to a mother, even if there is a sworn translation? They cannot even read or speak proper English. As guided by their minister, they will of course stick to their „legal“ opinion whatever it takes. We can only recommend to take maximum precaution and to arm yourself with as many docs you have. Throw the officials with paperwork until they suffocate.

This works best ! Original docs required or are certified copies good enough? Be on the safe side. Translations of foreign docs? You better take them with. Does a child travelling with both parents still need an unabridged birth certificate? You bet, you do.

Because Home Affairs is not the only institution checking you out. Of course every single airline has its own interpretations, trainings and manuals. If you are flying with Lufthansa first, then with Emirates and finally with SAA?

Well, you got 3 different sets of rules, plus Home Affairs. And is the check-in staff permanently employed with the airlines and well experienced? Of course not. They are often hired in, in season there are students and other temporary staff. And they will always err on the side of caution because Home Affairs makes them responsible. So they will be super cautious.

Therefore our only advise can be to take original documents and the more the merrier. There is no way you can win an argument, as practical experience shows. BTW: Did the officials ask me for my Permanent Residence Certificate or my ID book, as now required by law when leaving or entering the country? Of course not. But would I ever travel without those supporting documents? No, because I want to get through check-in and immigration as quickly as possible.

Nightmare at OR Tambo – Visa regulations used as weapon of mass destruction

Most human beings are pleasant, law-abiding individuals whose sense of Karma encourages us to treat others the way we would like to be ourselves. But every now and then a dysfunctional being slips through. And once they get a sliver of power, they become human wrecking balls wreaking damage beyond comprehension. Protecting society from such anomalies is a big reason why nations require leaders who reflect before enacting rules and regulations. In the wrong hands, even the best-intentioned law can become a weapon of mass destruction. Douglas Gibson, a long serving Member of Parliament and SA’s erstwhile Ambassador to Thailand shares the nightmare family members were subjected to by Home Affairs officials. Despite the obvious plunge in tourist numbers, the ANC seems unable to comprehend how its new Visa regulations are killing jobs. Perhaps the narrative of this nightmare at OR Tambo will strike the right chord. – Alec Hogg

Read the biznews.com article HERE

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by Dirk Meissner

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