Home Affairs in court after official tears up child’s passport
Source: GroundUp, 01/11/2018
A 16-year-old Zimbabwean has missed a year of school and has been
unable to rejoin his mother in South Africa after a Home Affairs
official in Harare declared his application for a study visa
fraudulent and tore up his passport. (Brent Meersman, GroundUp)
The Department of Home Affairs is once more embroiled in a legal battle.
On September 21, court papers were filed in an application lodged
against the minister and the director general (DG) for declaring a
visa application by a Zimbabwean child fraudulent and banning him from
returning to SA for five years, GroundUp reported.
As a result of the department`s action, Wadzanai Bello has been
separated from her 16-year-old son, Tinashe Bello, since March. He has
missed a year of schooling.
She says it has caused her much pain. Her only contact with her son is
by telephone twice a week.
Bello is being represented by the Legal Resources Centre. In her
founding affidavit in the court case, she states that Tinashe has been
at Zonnebloem Nest High School since 2015.
In February, he was selected to go to Germany to represent his school
in a soccer tournament. But for Tinashe to leave and re-enter South
Africa, the German embassy insisted he get a study visa, not the
visitor`s visa which Bello initially applied for at the Visa
Facilitation Centre (VFS) in Cape Town.
On the advice of the VFS, Bello sent Tinashe to Zimbabwe to apply for
the study visa because an application can only be made outside of
Since she could not accompany her son because she was working in Cape
Town, she relied on the assistance of her extended family in Zimbabwe
and a South African family that helped with supporting documents and
money to enable Tinashe to apply for the visa.
In May, at the last of several frustrating appointments that Tinashe
and his family attended at the South African Embassy in Harare, where
a different document was rejected each time, he was suddenly informed
that his application was `a scam`.
In her affidavit, Bello says the South African Home Affairs official
then tore up Tinashe`s passport and threw it away. Tinashe was
informed that he was banned from returning to South Africa for five years.
Bello said in the affidavit that the DG`s dismissal of the visa
application as fraudulent was substantively and procedurally unfair.
Tinashe was not given an opportunity to make representations nor was
he given an opportunity to exercise his right of review or appeal in
terms of the Immigration Act.
According to Bello, there were no reasonable grounds to conclude that
the application was fraudulent. She argued that irrelevant
considerations were taken into account and relevant considerations
were not considered, resulting in the decision being taken arbitrarily.
Also, although it is still unclear whether Tinashe was in fact
declared a prohibited person, Bello`s affidavit says a fraudulent
application is not a listed ground in terms of Section 29 of the
Immigration Act to make such a declaration, and the DG exceeded his
powers because he did not have the necessary standing to declare a
person a prohibited foreigner outside the ambit of the act.
Tinashe was in possession of a valid passport and the information that
was provided was correct, according to Bello`s affidavit. If there is
any suspicion about the authenticity of the documents, there are other
means available to the DG to verify the information.