Birth certificates give dad grey hairs
largely from exaggeration and distortion of facts”.
On Thursday, home affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete told City Press: “There are thousands of thousands of people coming to the country without a problem.”
In an unprecedented move, the department decided to release the ports of entry statistics for travellers arriving from the UK. Between November 1 and December 23, there was a 3% increase, from 79 998 in 2014 to 82 772 this year.
Despite this, the Southern African Tourism Services Association said the regulations were hurting the industry.
On Wednesday, the association’s CEO, David Frost, said: “We should be growing our key market in double digits with the exchange rate we have at the moment.”
Tshwete, however, said home affairs was not responsible for tourism figures: “The requirements are well explained and thousands of people have come to South Africa without a problem. The compliance rate is above 90%.”
Asked to clarify if this meant that up to one in 10 people weren’t meeting the requirements, Tshwete said: “I’m saying a large number of people come to the country versus those who get rejected.”
Tshwete said that since it was the airlines turning people away and not home affairs officials, only the airlines would be able to confirm exact figures.
City Press contacted British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, two of the major airlines flying from the UK, but both said they were unaware of any major issues.
“We have done everything we can to let families know, and we recommend all customers check the visa requirements of the country they are travelling to before they leave for the airport,” said a British Airways spokesperson. It was a gruelling 52-hour trip from their home in Canada to South Africa for the five-member Wasserman family. And it also didn’t help that they left their children’s unabridged birth certificates behind.
Lukas and Anelia Wasserman and their three children, aged five, nine and 11, caught a flight from Halifax to Montreal on December 15. Their flight was delayed because of a technical problem and they had to wait for two days for their connecting flights to Cape Town via Chicago and the Netherlands.
“We were at the airport on Wednesday [December 16] to get new meal and accommodation coupons when we realised that we’d left the children’s unabridged birth certificates at home,” said Anelia (43).
Lukas (43) had to catch the last flight back to Halifax and drove for two hours to their house in Antigonish to fetch them. Then he boarded a flight back to Montreal to make it in time for their 8am flight to Chicago – an exercise that cost the family an extra $1 000 (R15 600).
“And when we landed on Saturday in Cape Town, the officials did not even look at the birth certificates,” Anelia laughs.
“We seriously considered turning around and booking another flight just before Christmas, but the children were determined because ‘granny and grandpa are waiting for us’.”
HOLIDAY WOES Anelia and Lukas Wasserman had to endure a gruelling trip to SA from Canada with their children to visit family over the holidays