HIGH HOPES: Aspiring soccer player George Maskini is hoping to travel to the UK for a football tour. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - The boy who wanted to play overseas in an international soccer tournament is nowhere near getting answers from Home Affairs after his attempts to travel across the border was thwarted by them.

George Maskini, 13, and his family have not heard from Home Affairs after their attorneys submitted papers of their intent to take the department to court.

“Despite Home Affairs’ undertaking to respond to us after considering the legal opinion from their counsel about the matter, we confirm it’s been three months and we are still not close to getting any response,” attorney Romeo Tusi said.

He said they did manage to get a letter confirming that the current travel document was in line with their systems.

“We trust this will now allow George to travel on his September tour without any worries with this current travel document,” Tusi said.

It’s been a tumultuous time for George, as his family tries to make sense of how this could have happened. First, he had his dream dashed when his teacher raised funds for him to participate in a tournament in Phuket, Thailand, in November, only to discover that he didn’t qualify for a South African passport because both his parents were from the DRC.

The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Fatima Chohan, stepped in and handed him what was thought to be a passport.

But it turned out to be a travel document which showed his nationality as South African, conflicting with the barcode on the travel document which identified him as from the DRC. This led to George missing the tour to Thailand.

On hearing of George’s passport woes, Rostoem Simons of Simsport Eagles offered him a spot in its team for a Dubai trip. His mother said the team, with George, were ready to leave when the unthinkable happened once again. Maskini said a week before the Dubai trip in April, she went to the Department of Home Affairs for confirmation that the passport that was given by the deputy minister was active to avoid further disappointment. However, George’s umpteenth attempt at leaving the country was thwarted yet again.

The Maskinis have filed a lawsuit claiming R461000 in damages and accused the department of gross negligence.


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Cape Argus