SA travel agents criticise new visa regulations

JOHANNESBURG - The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) has called the differentiation of travel requirements for South African children and children from other countries, "blatant discrimination".

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced that foreign minors visiting South Africa with their parents will no longer require an unabridged birth certificate or consent letter.

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South African children will still need them when travelling across our borders.

ASATA CEO Otto de Vries believes the idea is ridiculous.

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"While I believe the intent was a good one in terms of trying to address the concerns around child trafficking, what we're seeing here is an inconsistent application of the Children's Act as it's being applied by the Department of Home Affairs.

"We cannot understand why bona fide tourists -- whether inbound or outbound -- holding foreign or South African passports should be dealt with through this very blunt instrument which is the legislation as it currently is applied to South Africans and South African families that wish to travel abroad," De Vries said. 

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has signed a waiver allowing foreign minors to enter the country without producing an unabridged birth certificate.

Motsoaledi said the requirements for South African children are easily resolved during the passport acquisition process.

"When you visit as a South African, you want to get out of the country with a minor child, all we want is consent from the other parent," he said.

"I don't know where this issue of unabridged birth certificate comes from because it is an issue of consent.

"This is done in the interest of the Children's Act which says we don't want couples to fight their battles using children as pawns. All we want to know is, has the other parent given consent that this child can go out of the country and visit because some of these children go out forever because there is a war of custody," he said.

Motsoaledi explained single parents would be able to resolve the issue of a consent letter at Home Affairs during the passport application process.