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Dept denies ignoring tourism industry on new visa rules

From Monday, children entering or exiting South Africa will need to have their unabridged birth certificates.

FILE: From Monday, children entering or exiting South Africa will need to have their unabridged birth certificates. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Home Affairs Department has strongly denied claims from the tourism industry that it's been ignored during the implementation of new visa regulations and travel rules.

From Monday, children entering or exiting South Africa will need to have their unabridged birth certificates and people landing on the country's soil will need biometric visas.

But the tourism industry has claimed the department had refused to consult with them and only issued standard operating procedures last week.

The department's Mayihlome Tshwete said, "Their expectation of a consultation is one that has their desired outcome regarding the regulations."

At the same time, the Democratic Alliance (DA) believes a decline in foreign visitor numbers will eventually result in government scrapping stricter immigration regulations.

The DA's Beverly Schafer said they will continue to oppose the regulations.

"At the time the amended regulations came into effect, Minister Derek Hanekom said, 'Well we don't know what the impact is because we haven't seen the numbers,' now he came out last week in his budget speech and said, 'We have seen the numbers have halved,' so the numbers will show and will force government to act."

BACKLOG

Home Affairs said it has a backlog of around 4,000 applications for unabridged birth certificates.

Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni said applications take six to eight weeks to process.

"The backlog which we have is 4,000 as of Monday."

However, parents who are planning to travel and who are still waiting for their documents to be issued, will be able to get a letter from the department that will allow their children to travel.

Apleni said several other countries have similar requirements.

"That abridged birth certificate, countries around the world are not recognising it because it does not have the details of the parents. It can just have a child's name and that's it."

To view the new regulations, click here.

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