New job-killing travel requirements announced 12 days before launch

By Beverley Schäfer, MPL, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture:

The last minute release of the details around the travel requirements for minors travelling internationally by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), will spell a disaster for our travel industry in South Africa and the Western Cape.

The DA in the Western Cape calls on Minister Gigaba to stop crippling the tourism industry through onerous travel requirements. The Minister should scrap the demand for unabridged birth certificates in order for families to visit South Africa freely. We cannot afford to lose any more jobs in South Africa.

The new travel requirements for minors travelling internationally, as part of the Immigration Regulations 2014, will come into effect on 1 June 2015. It stipulates that all minors under the age of 18 will be required to produce a certificate that shows details of both parents when entering or exiting South African ports of entry. This announcement comes a mere 12 days before the requirement for unabridged certificates comes into effect.

The document outlines the various scenarios of minors travelling. Concerning is the consent requirements by court order or a Letter of Special Circumstances. These requirements are onerous and do not encourage families to choose South Africa as a destination of choice.

The DHA seems to be pursuing a blanket approach to curb child trafficking yet reports indicate that the reality of the situation remains vague. The 2014 Trafficking in Persons report states that South African citizens and foreign nationals are subjected to human trafficking mainly within the country. South African children are recruited from poor rural areas and brought to urban centres such as Johannesburg, Cape Town and Bloemfontein.

It appears that the greatest challenge to human trafficking is not a lack of, but rather the enforcement of existing legislation. The DHA should rather follow international best practice or the Western Cape’s coordinated anti-trafficking and victim referral mechanisms.

Minister Gigaba is playing a battle of wills with his counterpart, Minister Hanekom even when the Tourism Minister has come out publically to raise concerns on the tourism sector and the negative impact on jobs and growth. It is questionable whether the Minister of Home Affairs is being honest about the motives for the new legislation; is human trafficking just an excuse for being tough on immigration?

Launching the details around unabridged birth certificates 12 days before they are to be put in place is a recipe for disaster for our tourism industry. Visa regulations will kill 21 000 jobs as it is. Further tightening legislation, at such short notice, will only make matters worse.