|New SA demand leaves scores stranded at border|
|Friday, 03 August 2012 00:00|
SCORES of Zimbabwean women travelling to South Africa with minor children are stranded at Beitbridge Border Post as the neighbouring country’s immigration officials are demanding affidavits for the children.
A parent or guardian intending to travel to South Africa in the company of minor children is now required to produce an affidavit signed by the other parent or both parents in the case of those travelling with a guardian before the child’s passport is stamped by the neighbouring country’s immigration officials.
The document is reportedly required for children below the age of 17.
Scores of mothers have reportedly been turned away as they could not be allowed entry into South Africa without the required document for their minor children.
The development has sparked outrage from travellers who are complaining that their travelling rights were being infringed upon yet they had the necessary documents.
Ms Manusha Pillay from the South Africa Department of Home Affairs referred questions to the department’s spokesperson Mr Ronnie Mamoepa, saying she was no longer dealing with the issue.
Mr Mamoepa’s mobile phone was continuously ringing yesterday.
Indications are that the development is aimed at reducing child trafficking across the Limpopo River.
Co- Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said his South African counterparts might have domesticated the United Nations Protocols on Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, one of them being child and women trafficking.
“I cannot speak about other people’s policies because on our bilateral terms we have not agreed on such a thing. What I can say is that as Southern Africa, we are trying to curb human trafficking which is a cause for concern in the region especially by people from the Great Lakes and the horn of Africa,” said Minister Mohadi.
“They could be effecting one of the conventions on reduction of Transnational Organised Crime which include trafficking of women and children, small arms, drugs and financing of terrorism. They might have domesticated these as a country.”
Officials from cross border transporters said the development had been going on for some time but had been intensified recently.
They said lately, the document had become a requirement which has seen scores failing to cross the border with children.
Chronicle carried out a snap survey around offices of different cross-border buses where officials confirmed that many of their clients had been left stranded on the South African side.
“Two weeks ago I spent the whole night at Beitbridge Border Post after officials on the South African side demanded an affidavit for my daughter. I was shocked because I did not know anything about this requirement. The bus left me at the border and I ended up paying umalayitsha 600 rand for my daughter to cross as we were going to Johannesburg,” said Ms Amanda Siziba from Pumula.
Some parents could be seen asking about the development at offices of cross-border transporters.
Mrs Bertha Moyo from Nkulumane 5 said she spent the whole day yesterday inquiring from different buses because she wanted her 10-year-old son to travel to Johannesburg for the holidays.
“I have visited several bus companies and was told that minor children can no longer travel alone to South Africa. When I further inquired I was told that even if I travel with him I would need an affidavit signed by his father. My husband is late,” said Mrs Moyo.
Some travellers said they had witnessed many people stranded at the border.
“I was at the border recently and I saw people running around in confusion after being told that they could not cross with their children. Initially, we heard that this affected those mothers whose surnames are different from their children’s, but now everyone has to produce the affidavit. I have just written one to authorise my wife to travel with our daughter because I do not want them to suffer at the border,” said Mr Ntando Ncube, who was accompanying his wife to board a bus yesterday.
The document has become one of the requirements for one to buy a bus ticket to South Africa.
Enterprising individuals are now cashing in on the development and selling copies of the affidavit paper for five rand each at different cross border bus offices. They are working with commissioners of oaths who charge between three and five dollars to sign each copy.
The paper costs one rand in bookshops.
The new trend has literally played into the hands of cross border transporters, better known as omalayitsha, who are back in business as they cash in on those who would have been turned away with their children to illegally cross the border.
A Mr Moyo from one of the cross border buses in Bulawayo said there was nothing they could do to assist their clients as the document had become a critical requirement.
“These days the situation has become worse. Many of our clients have been turned away and there is nothing we can do than to advise them while we are still here. Right now we do not sell a ticket to anyone without the affidavit. Some have tried paying extra money to drivers to be assisted to cross but these days they have intensified their operation. Many have been left stranded at the border and have returned home,” said Mr Moyo.
Usually, minor children travel to South Africa when schools close to join their parents based in the neighbouring country for the holidays.