'We will not review requirements for children travelling to and from SA'

The new requirements stipulate minors travelling must have an unabridged birth certificate.

Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Home Affairs Department on Thursday said it was adamant it would not review the requirements for children to travel to and from South Africa.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba met with several child advocacy groups in Rosebank to discuss efforts to stop child trafficking.

The new requirements, stipulating that minors traveling to and from South Africa must have an unabridged birth certificate, came into effect last month.

Gigaba said there were plans in place to improve the travel process for children and these included amending passports issued to minors.

"I have the expectation that these stakeholders engagements will look at innovative methods to minimise the administrative inconveniences."

He was adamant the regulations were here to stay but said authorities would look into ways to simplify administration problems with the certificates.

"The fundamentals of minimising the vulnerability of children will remain unmovable."

He said protecting children was non-negotiable.

At the same time, child advocacy groups like Unicef and Save our Children have agreed to work with the department to help clamp down on child trafficking in this country.

The department came under server criticism from the tourism industry arguing the regulations would cause a drastic drop in tourism opportunities.

The minister said the regulations were preventative measures to stop the high statistics of child trafficking in South Africa as the Child Protection Act instructed the department to do.

He conceded that that there had been administrative challenges in the implementation of the regulations, and asked the director general to strengthen relationship with stakeholders to implement the process more smoothly.

"It should be clear that this is not about the reviewing of regulations."

Advocates from various child advocacy groups agreed that the administrative challenges should not mean that children remain unsafe in the country.