THE AFFIDAVIT SAGA
Getting hold of unabridged birth certificates is not the end of the bureaucratic process. If two parents are named on a child’s birth certificate but one is travelling alone with the child, that parent needs to get an affidavit from the other parent giving his or her consent to take the child out of the country.
I took a handwritten consent letter, along with copies and originals of children’s birth certificates to a Post Office, three banks and two police stations to try to get them notarised.
A bank employee at the entrance said they could not help.
“No, we are not doing ‘those stamps’,” she said, referring to the stamp a commissioner of oaths uses.
The single teller was adamant. “No, we don’t commission handwritten documents,” she said.
One officer said I did not need consent from the children’s father as both boys had my surname and not his. The second officer said this wasn’t so, and I definitely needed the father’s consent.
I was told I needed to produce not only originals, but also copies of the unabridged birth certificates and passports. And the consent form could not be handwritten. They would only accept and commission the affidavit if it was printed off home affairs’ website. They did not have a printer.
They did not have the required stamp to commission the affidavit. No stamp either.
The officer was friendly and confident and handed over an affidavit form, saying the father needed to write out the statement and come to sign it in front of him. been affected at all. The “US market has grown beautifully and Africa is growing all the time”.
The effect of the Chinese-market retraction was not of major concern to the company because Chinese visitors made up only 8% of the total.
“But our industry is just a portion of where these tourists spend,” he said, citing the vast ancillary industries – including tour operators, craft shops, duty-free shops and even the processed-diamond industry – as being negatively affected by the shrinkage.
Erik Venter, CEO of Comair, which operates budget airline Kulula and the local British Airways franchise, said his company had definitely noticed a change in tourism capacity. He said this was most evident when looking at the effect on tourismfocused destinations out of South Africa, such as Victoria Falls, Livingstone and Windhoek. The increase in visitors from the US, UK and Europe – which was slight – was probably a result of the collapse in the exchange rate.
Venter said the problem with reading too much into these markets was that they were “mature”. If there was any growth in visitor numbers from such countries, it would be minor and likely to return to a base level.
The Asian market, though, had been growing at about 74% a year, an exponential figure, before the regulations came into play. Venter said that at the rate this market had been growing, it had been primed to be South Africa’s biggest tourism market in five years. “In theory, it could have doubled the entire industry in this period.”
Venter said that, as far as government was concerned, “as long as it doesn’t shrink, it’s OK”.
Tshwete admitted that the way documents were processed could be improved and glitches – such as delays in delivery – could be fixed.
“We can change how we do it,” he said, but the core fundamentals of protecting children must not be debated. “The consent [affidavits] and unabridged birth certificates ... those cannot be changed.”