Teen football whizz George Masinki's passport was declared invalid, resulting in him missing a trip overseas. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency
Teen football whizz George Masinki's passport was declared invalid, resulting in him missing a trip overseas. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency

Home Affairs stumped by 'invalid' passport issued to Maitland soccer teen

By Marvin Charles Time of article published Apr 5, 2018

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Cape Town - Home Affairs is unable to explain how a “legitimate” passport issued to a soccer-loving youngster, George Maskini, was declared to be “lost and stolen” by immigration officials at Cape Town International Airport. This development prevented George, 13, from travelling to a tournament in Dubai with his soccer team.

The Cape Argus reported yesterday how George was let down by Home Affairs for the umpteenth time.

He was unable to participate in a soccer tournament in Thailand with travel documents issued to him by Home Affairs - and he has now been left heartbroken because his passport was rejected.

Also read: Passport hitch again clips aspiring teen soccer star's wings

Home Affairs spokesperson Thabo Mokgola said he was unable to explain the latest bungle: “The client applied for a travel document, which was issued on the 23/11/2017. However, the document reflected the country of origin as South Africa instead of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In this regard, the system rejected this travel document and we immediately took steps to cancel it, and issued a new one.”

Refugee advocacy groups reacted with horror at the poor service received by George and his mother.

Prenessa Nalliah, the founder and director of Creative Angels Fashion Benefit, a group that assists young refugees, said it was an indication that the system was in a fragmented state. “I feel that George has been let down by two things in our system. Number one, the incompetence, and number two, the lack of drive to go the extra mile to help someone,” she said.

“This points to a very fragmented government system led by people who do the work for the sake of doing it....”

Sonke Gender Justice weighed in, too, and said it was involved in a tug-of-war with the Department of Home Affairs. “This constant red tape that refugees have to go through is a clear indication of the xenophobia within the department,” said Marike Keller, from the organisation’s policy development and advocacy unit.

“This is also a clear example of the department failing asylum-seekers, and I think the system is broken,” she said of George’s case.

George first had his dream crushed when his teacher raised funds for him to participate in a soccer tournament in Phuket, Thailand, only to find out that he didn’t qualify for a South African passport because both his parents were from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Then, the deputy minister of Home Affairs stepped in and handed him what his mother thought was a passport, but it turned out to be travel documents.

He subsequently missed the tour to Thailand.

On hearing of George’s plight, Rostoem Simons, from Simsport Eagles, offered him a spot in their team for the trip to Dubai.

But then the unthinkable happened. His exasperated mother, Bampende, said the team, with George, was ready to leave on Sunday when he was held back.

She said she had gone to home affairs a week earlier, and been assured her son’s passport was fine.

@MarvinCharles17

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Cape Argus

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