Durban - Another KwaZulu-Natal man has told of how he had to leave his wife as guarantee while he went to an ATM to withdraw cash to pay crooked Mozambican border officials.
Howick resident, Tony Psaila, and his wife, Liezl, were forced to pay R4 300 for the release of their unstamped passports.
Last week, the Daily News reported the harrowing ordeal of the Stone family, of Kloof, who refused to pay R9 000 after it was discovered that only one of their five passports had been stamped on entering Mozambique. They refused to leave their daughter “hostage” and left their passports behind and crossed into SA without them.
The family had been caught in an apparent scam where officials at the Manguzi border post fail to stamp passports when South Africans enter. When leaving, crooked officials can then demand a “fine”.
After reading about the Stone family’s ordeal, Psaila contacted the Daily News, saying the border officials had initially demanded R7 500.
They went on holiday to Mozambique last September.
Psaila said at the border they were ushered through to clear their car, then buy insurance and then directed into the country without being instructed to get their passports stamped.
“While driving in I said to my wife that the officials did not stamp our passports,” he said. But the couple did not make much of it.
However, when they tried to leave the country, an official accused them of entering the country illegally and said they would have to pay a fine for every day they had been there.
“The official requested we pay R7 500 in total, but we did not have that sort of money with us. She threatened to make us drive to Ponta (d’Ouro) to deal with it there and possibly face jail time.”
Psaila, who was using his Australian passport, was also told he would have to pay a fine for not having a visa.
Psaila eventually drove to Manguzi, leaving his wife behind at the border post, where he withdrew R4 300.
“I returned with the money and finalised the transaction. When we asked for a receipt, the official said if we wanted a receipt we would have to pay the full amount,” he said.
“It will be the last time they see us there. This experience makes you so angry and scared to travel abroad.”
According to Statistics SA, about 600 000 South Africans visited Mozambique in 2012.
Clayson Monyela, spokesman for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco), said all matters of border control and customs were not Dirco’s “terrain” and referred the Daily News to the Department of Home Affairs.
KZN manager at the Department of Home Affairs, Nosipho Shandu, said she needed to investigate the matter and requested the Kloof and Howick families contact her directly.
The Mozambican Consulate in Durban said all queries had been forwarded to “the relevant authorities in Mozambique for consideration and a response will follow suit as soon as the consulate receives proper instructions on the matter”.
Kevin Stone said on Sunday that he had opened a case of theft against the Mozambican government, at the Hillcrest SAPS on Sunday.
“I wanted to keep it simple. I was told that the docket would then be sent to Manguzi police to investigate.” Stone said others had since come forward with similar experiences. He said he would also contact Home Affairs.