A stalemate between the Department of Home Affairs and the tourism sector could end in a legal suit.
This comes after industry’s lobbying to scrap the requirement that children travelling to South Africa produce an unabridged birth certificate have come to naught.
David Frost, Satsa ceo, said that legal action against the Department of Home Affairs was a possibility and the association had already sought legal counsel.
“Legal action is an option and it is certainly the last resort and not something that anybody wants to do but it is an option when you’ve exhausted every other avenue,” said David. “And it looks very much like we’ve exhausted every other avenue.”
David said that what was needed was for the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba to provide the basis of the policy implementation. “Ultimately what you want is a court of law to be able to put the Minister of Home Affairs on the stand and ask him to provide the rational basis for the UBC requirement: how many children have been trafficked? How big is the problem?”
David added that they had sought an opinion from senior legal counsel that he would table at the Tourism Business Council of South Africa as an option to consider. “If anyone can provide an alternative remedy to sort the problem out, I’m open to listening to it,” said David. “It’s been two years and we’ve made no progress, nor has the Minister of Tourism, nor has the Deputy President, nor the Inter-Ministerial Committee.”
James Vos, Shadow Minster of Tourism, told Tourism Update that the DA would release a statement outlining their comments on the Draft First Amendment of the Immigration Regulations, 2014 before the end of this week. James said what was needed was to remove the ambiguity from the regulations and gave the example of the word “may” where the amendment states: “Where a parent or parents, from a visa-exempt country, who is or are travelling with a child, such parent or parents may be required by an immigration officer to produce the child’s unabridged birth certificate upon admission into or departure from the Republic…” According to James the application process should be streamlined and made easy to understand.
He added that they would make recommendations on what needed to be amended, excluded and also provide solutions to these.
James also said that electronic visas would be an option to consider, where biometrics are captured on arrival but that all immigration desks needed to be operating during peak periods. He emphasised how delays in airport queues cut into the traveller’s itinerary and prevented them from spending money in South Africa.