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Family`s visa horror

Source: Mail & Guardian, 08/08/2015

SA`S NEW travel rules prevented our minor children from attending a family funeral. My wife and children were on holiday in Florence, Italy, and I had returned early to our home in Singapore when we received the tragic news that our three-year-old niece had passed away. We wanted to return to SA immediately, in time for the funeral last Friday. The problem: for my children to fly directly from Europe to SA with my wife, they needed their birth certificates, a (certified?) copy of my passport and an affidavit (signed by me in the presence of my wife) granting permission for them to travel without me. I could think of no way to get this done in time. Some government websites that set out the confusing list of requirements (and frankly I`m still not sure I understand them correctly), state that you can contact your local High Commission, embassy or the Department of Home Affairs. Good luck. At 5.03pm local time on Tuesday last week (regular hours end at 5pm), I called the main number for the South African High Commission in Singapore. There was no reply after several attempts. I then called the "after hours emergency number", and there was also no reply after several attempts. I went to the High Commission in London`s website and found a phone number on the home page. An automated recording from a British telephone company told me the number did not exist, and I dialled several times. I found another number and failed to get any answer after more than a dozen attempts during normal working hours. I then called the Department of Home Affairs headquarters in Pretoria. Again, no one answered during several attempts. We gave up on taking our children with us to SA for the funeral, left them in the care of friends in England, and made our separate ways to Durban without them. Need I say more? Have we enjoyed all our rights as citizens? Reinie Booysen Singapore


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