Cape Town -
A five-year-old child has become the latest casualty of the controversial new South African immigration regulations, being declared “undesirable” when the family left the country to holiday in Turkey.
On Friday, thanks to the intervention of the Western Cape High Court, the girl has been permitted to enter and remain in South Africa, subject to conditions prescribed by the Department of Home Affairs.
The child, the daughter of a high-ranking UN official, was the only family member without permanent residency, having been born in the US in 2008.
She lived in South Africa on a visitor’s visa, which expired 115 days before she left for Turkey. This was the reason for her being declared indefinitely undesirable.
Although the man, whose name cannot be revealed, travels frequently, the family’s permanent home is in Cape Town.
In papers before the court, it emerged that the family left South Africa on June 24 for a holiday in Istanbul, and were to return on Sunday.
they passed through passport control on their way out of South Africa, they got the shock news that their little daughter had been declared undesirable in terms of new immigration regulations which came into effect in May.
“We were not interviewed before this decision was made. No questions were put to us. No submissions were sought. No explanation was given,” the father said in an affidavit.
The fact that the child had been barred from returning to South Africa affected the entire family, because it meant none of them could return home.
“We cannot leave her there as a result of her age - she is five years old. (Her sister) is forced to remain with us for the same reason - she is only nine years old,” the father said.
To make matters worse, the man was due to return to work on Monday, and school for the girls starts on July 15.
The sisters also faced the prospect of being indefinitely separated, and the couple would have had to split up.
“These effects are extremely grave to us as individuals, parents, spouses and siblings, and to us as a family,” the father said.
He added that the declaration stated that he could apply to the minister of home affairs to waive the grounds of undesirability if he could show good cause. He did this the very next day, and later followed up with the South African mission in Ankara.
He received no response and his attorney, Craig Smith, also had difficulty getting answers.
The father asked the court to order the minister and department to allow his daughter to return.
He alleged that his and his family’s constitutional rights were being infringed, and also submitted that the applicable regulation was unlawful.
Judge Pat Gamble ordered yesterday that the child be permitted to enter and remain in South Africa, subject to conditions by the department. The constitutionality of the regulations are also being challenged.