SA ‘Travelling With Minors’ Rules Clarified

We booked a trip recently and, along with the booking confirmation, we were sent this most excellent document that clarifies exactly what you will need (and, I suppose, what you won’t), when travelling internationally to or from South Africa once the revised, refined, rewritten legislation comes into effect on the 1st June 2016.

In short, if you’re thinking of taking your little stormtrooper(s) on holiday, this is the PDF you’ve been looking for.

The document details ten different scenarios in which you may need to carry extra documentation. There’s even a Parental Consent Affidavit (PCA) template attached for when you might need one.

Given the amount of time it can take for these documents to be ordered, organised and processed, it might even be a good idea to get your ducks in a row (AB de Villiers-style) now, in preparation for any future travel you might be contemplating.

Please feel free to download and share the PDF with anyone you think it might assist. The more people informed, the fewer people get denied a holiday because they brought the wrong bit(s) of paper to the airport. (I’m looking at you, Idris Elba.)

Welcome to South Africa

With newspapers, the internet and social media full of images which have proved difficult to handle for ruling politicians all over the world, while offering unprecedented opportunities for slacktivism and cheap, opposition bandwagon-jumping and point-scoring, we finally have some clarity from our own Government on the current refugee crisis. Geographically, we may be rather distant from the current troubles, but in these days of the global community, no country is exempt from making excuses statements about the problems. Thankfully, our erstwhile Minister of Home Affairs broke his silence and had this to say:

We note the situation in Syria and the surrounding regions with alarm and disappointment. Despite the fact independent figures suggest that over 95% of the civilians killed in Syria over the past four years have been at the hands of President Assad, whom we tacitly support through our partnerships with Russia and Vladimir Putin, we maintain that these problems are clearly the result of the evil, imperialist, neo-colonial Western powers and their political and military interference in the region.

As Africans, we are culture-bound to extend the spirit of Ubuntu to those in peril, especially those who find themselves needing to cross borders in haste, as we recently demonstrated with our role in assisting President Omar al-Bashir in safely returning to his homeland. In addition, in defying the imperialist agenda of the ICC’s puppet-masters, his safe return to Khartoum will allow us, without any suggestion of irony, to further demonstrate our role in conveniently overlooking the 5.5 million individuals displaced from his homeland.

South Africa has long been known for its open, welcoming arms to those from other nations. Who could forget the warmth we infamously showed Ernesto Nhamuave back in 2008? It is with this in mind that we will open our otherwise secure, conventionally impenetrable borders to those displaced by the turmoil in Syria, those who have had to hurriedly evacuate their homes, those often forced to leave their possessions, and members of their close families behind.

* Incoming refugees will be asked to provide suitable paperwork, including identity documents, passports, the original unabridged birth certificates of any individuals below the age of 18, and a certified Affidavit giving consent to travel from any absent parent named on the aforementioned original unabridged birth certificate. It should also be noted that any Syrian national wishing to enter the Republic of South Africa is also required to provide a valid visa for their entry into the country. This visa can be obtained from the South African embassy in Damascus. Appointments are available between 12-2pm on the first Wednesday of alternate months, subject to the absence of military activity in the Jadet Kouraish, West Mezzeh area of the city. Visas cost $500 per person. Cash only.

Ha. Your move, UK.

Visa woes

Between them, the UK Government, the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa and the British Consulate in Pretoria have conspired against me.
I’m not sure in what proportions the blame should be meted out, but I’m going to have a go. In more ways than one. 

First off, the UK Government. For once, I think they are pretty blameless in this one. All they have done is to extend the list of countries whose citizens need a visa to enter the UK. Unfortunately, South Africa is now on that list (along with 75% of the world’s countries). This is to help prevent terrorists and smugglers from entering the country, probably as part of their “Jobs for Brits” policy: after all, why import terrorists when you have a roaring trade going producing your own?

Secondly, the Department of Home Affairs. This Department has a terrible reputation, which is almost entirely justified. Of all the Government Departments, Home Affairs is the one which elicits the most laughter, anger and sheer disbelief as to how bad an organisation can be. And they must take their share of the blame in this sorry tale. Their security and systems areso bad that anyone can get a South African passport – hence the UK’s concern over who is getting a South African passport.
Of course – if you go the legal route to getting a South African passport, you end up buried under an avalanche of red tape from which it will take you a good few months to escape.
The UK, of course doesn’t have this issue: passports there are completely safe and secure. Right.

But, I’m putting 0.5% of the blame of the UK Government and about 2% on Home Affairs. Why? Because I’m saving it all for the real culprits.
The extra R3,000 that it’s going to cost to take my family across to the UK in July is solely down to the utterly useless ****s at the British Consulate in Pretoria.
Thanks to them losing our (original) documents when we applied for a passport for the boy, we can no longer proceed with that application, nor one for the girl. Getting replacement documents means going through the Department of Home Affairs – and you may have heard what a reputation they have in South Africa.
And thus, because we can’t get the documents which they lost from the Department of Home Affairs, we have had to apply for South African passports for the kids through – the Department of Home Affairs.

A brief pause while I bang my head against a brick wall. Ah – such sweet relief.

The worst bit is that despite the fact that the British Consulate have prevented us from obtaining passports for the kids by being useless, they are rewarded by us paying them some more money for the privilege of taking my (half-British) kids to Britain. And this despite the fact that they will have a combined age of just less than 4 when we go over. And very limited bomb-making expertise. Probably.
It’s insult to injury, it’s salt in the wound, it’s a kick in the balls. None of which are particularly pleasant.
One could draw some interesting parallels to the bunch of merchant bankers in the UK getting bonuses for being rubbish at the jobs.