Claims of visa hassles in New Zealand repudiated
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.