South African families traveling overseas are still being turned away frequently due to the strict birth documentation regulations set up by Malusi Gigaba when he was Home Affairs Minister in 2015.
This is according to two surveys published by Travelstart. These surveys compiled data collected from over 500 travelers, a number of travel agents, travel consultants and airline representatives, and asked how they are currently being affected by the legislation.
In a nutshell, the regulation requires all travelers who are traveling with minors to produce an unabridged birth certificate for the minor, as well as a letter of parental consent if the child is not traveling with both parents, when arriving or departing in South Africa.
Travelstart found that the regulation affects all travelers who travel to or from South Africa, regardless of nationality.
These regulations were introduced in 2015, set out to prevent instances of child trafficking. However, by 2016, the Department of Home Affairs said they would rework the laws as this regulation had a negative effect on South Africa’s tourism numbers.
Data compiled by the Democratic Alliance (DA) shows that South Africa has lost as much as R7.5-billion from blocked tourists.
Despite the Department’s promise to review and amend the regulation, they are still in effect.
Travelstart’s surveys found that 30% of respondents have bee denied boarding due to the birth certificate regulation. A further 67% of respondents said they still need to apply for an unabridged birth certificate for their minor to travel.
Furthermore, 41% of respondents said that their application for an unabridged birth certificate took more than 6 weeks to process. This added an element of stress, as there were now additional hassles and cost implications in order to travel outside of South Africa.
Surveyed travel agents noted that two-thirds of their clients have been affected by the regulation, with 67% of foreign families being affected. Single mothers were the most negatively impacted.
In many cases, travellers and airline staff at overseas origin airports are left to fend for themselves with the onus being on the traveller to carry the correct documentation.