To Home Affairs, we say shame on you for causing a young boy such emotional and psychological anguish. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency
All 13-year-old George Maskini wanted was to go and play football after he was chosen to represent his school at an event in Thailand last November.

The South African-born Sunnyside Primary pupil is a minor, and his mom needed to apply for travel documentation for him.

That’s where the talented youngster first hit a wall. The Department of Home Affairs said he needed a passport. But his application was scuppered by the fact his parents were DRC nationals.


Determined to help realise his dream of playing overseas, the boy’s mother, Bampende, appealed to the department. Eventually, Home Affairs Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan stepped in, and his passport was fast-tracked.

On the day he was to depart he was stopped at the boarding gate because he needed a visa.

In December, the manager of SimSport Eagles Football Club offered him another opportunity to ­travel overseas. George’s dreams were dashed again when officials declared lost and/or stolen the passport Chohan had given him.

The teen was subjected to a traumatic experience by a government department whose purpose is to serve South Africans. Home Affairs’ failure to assist this young boy is despicable. It speaks to the unbelievably poor service some public servants deliver.

Maskini’s story touched the hearts of Cape Argus readers and one lawyer, Romeo Tsusi, stepped in, offering to sue Home Affairs on the boy’s behalf, pro bono.

The Cape Argus’s reporting on the story also caught the attention of MPs, who summoned George’s mother to appear before the Home Affairs portfolio committee, who shook their heads in dismay on Tuesday, listening to the harrowing tale.

We admire the efforts of the young lawyer. This is what President Cyril Ramaphosa meant by “Thuma mina. Send me” - his rallying call during his first State of the Nation Address earlier this year.

To Home Affairs, we say shame on you for causing a young boy such emotional and psychological anguish. How many other people are ­subjected to treatment like this?

The portfolio committee demanded an explanation of how Home Affairs scuppered this young boy’s dreams, and so do we.

Cape Argus