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New SA travel law comes into effect

New SA travel law comes into effect

Mkuseli Apleni

Mkuseli Apleni

Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
THE South African government yesterday introduced a new law which comes with stringent requirements for children travelling through its borders.

Under the new law, parents are expected to carry a valid travel document for their children, an unabridged birth certificate (UBC) bearing the names of the father and mother of the children below the age of 18.

The new dispensation was mooted on May 26, last year, but was suspended as South Africa’s Home Affairs department battled to clear a backlog of 4,000 applications for UBC.

South Africa’s Home Affairs Director General, Mkuseli Apleni said the requirements are aimed at establishing the principle that all children must have the consent of their parents when travelling into or out of that country.

“Where only one parent is travelling with a child, (or children), each child has to produce: a valid passport, an UBC or Equivalent Document for each travelling child and the Parental Consent Affidavit from the non-travelling parent whose details are recorded on the UBC or Equivalent Document,” he said.

“Furthermore an unaccompanied minor has to produce a valid passport, an UBC or Equivalent Document; Parental Consent Affidavit; letter from the person who is to receive the minor in the Republic containing such person’s residential and work address and full contact details in the Republic, a copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the minor in the Republic.”

Apleni said for a person who is travelling with a child who is not his or her biological child, the new regulations require that a valid passport, an UBC or Equivalent Document and a Parental Consent Affidavit be produced. These requirements apply also to children travelling with school groups, he added.

Apleni said travelling children in alternative care shall produce a valid passport and a letter authorising their departure from the department of social welfare.

He added that in the absence of a Parental Consent Affidavit, a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or full legal guardianship of the child exclusively to the travelling parent should be produced.

Where only one parent’s particulars appear on the UBC or equivalent document, no parental consent affidavit is required when that parent travels with the child.

“In the case of divorce, where custody of child/children is shared, parental consent by both parents is required. Where a Parental Consent Affidavit is presented, also required are full contact details and copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child”, he added.

Zimbabwe’s Assistant Regional Immigration officer in charge of compliance, Francis Mabika said no Zimbabwean was turned away from South Africa yesterday for lack of the mentioned requirements.

“Despite the law coming into effect yesterday we don’t expect any Zimbabweans to be turned down because South Africa has since last year been requesting for these same documents. In essence Zimbabweans are used to this kind of arrangement,” he said.

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