Claims of visa has­sles in New Zealand re­pu­di­ated

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - KHAYA KOKO

THE DE­PART­MENT of Home Af­fairs (DHA) has re­pu­di­ated re­ports em­a­nat­ing from New Zealand that pro­cess­ing visa ap­pli­ca­tions for New Zealan­ders wish­ing to visit South Africa is an oner­ous process.

This fol­lows DHA Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba’s an­nounce­ment last month that New Zealan­ders would re­quire visas when trav­el­ling to South Africa, in what Gi­gaba called “the prin­ci­ple of rec­i­proc­ity” af­ter New Zealand had ear­lier in 2016 im­posed visa re­quire­ments for South African trav­ellers.

This week, the New Zealand Herald’s web­site car­ried an ar­ti­cle on “frus­trated Ki­wis” who had “to travel across the coun­try to se­cure visas for their South African hol­i­days”.

The web­site quoted a Dan Joines who said he “had to fly up from Christchurch to go to the South African em­bassy in Welling­ton to get a visa”.

Joines is quoted fur­ther as say­ing he re­ceived no as­sis­tance from the em­bassy when he ar­rived there.

Speak­ing to The Star, DHA spokesper­son May­ihlome Tsh­wete said that although he was sym­pa­thetic, the DHA’s main con­cern was with South Africans who also have to travel long distances to get to New Zealand’s visa ap­pli­ca­tion cen­tre in Pre­to­ria – at a more ex­pen­sive cost.

“So I’m try­ing to un­der­stand what is im­posed on them that isn’t im­posed on us? These are the nat­u­ral im­pli­ca­tions of visa ap­pli­ca­tions. Even though they (New Zealand Herald) are quot­ing one per­son, we have hun­dreds of peo­ple who have ap­plied for visas and who have re­ceived them,” Tsh­wete ex­plained.

“I would imag­ine that for peo­ple who never used to ap­ply for visas that it is now a cul­tural shock.

“But that’s the same cul­tural shock that South Africans now have to go through to travel to New Zealand.

“Their visa prices are more ex­pen­sive than ours. We have kept it quite fair in terms of not be­ing ex­pen­sive and be­ing as ef­fi­cient as pos­si­ble in terms of pro­cess­ing visas, whereas South Africans are still sub­jected to high visa tar­iffs, not only from New Zealand, but other coun­tries as well,” Tsh­wete added.

Tsh­wete’s as­ser­tions cor­re­late with what Gi­gaba said last month: that the “fee ap­pli­ca­ble to an ap­pli­ca­tion for a New Zealand visa is al­most four times the amount South Africa re­quires as pay­ment for a visa ap­pli­ca­tion”.

New Zealand cited, among other things, se­cu­rity fears when it im­posed visa re­quire­ments for South African trav­ellers, end­ing a 20-year ar­range­ment be­tween the two coun­tries of visa-free travel.

Tsh­wete em­pha­sised that the DHA would be will­ing to have a con­ver­sa­tion with New Zealand au­thor­i­ties if there were is­sues which needed sort­ing out.

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