George Maskini, 13, with mom Bampende. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - The boy who so wanted to play soccer overseas but was tripped time and again by Home Affairs has now sued the department.

George Maskini, 13, from Brooklyn in Milnerton, is preparing to sue them for R461 000. In court papers the family says as a result of the departments gross negligence by its failure to issue the correct and valid travel documents, he could not be part of his Thailand and Dubai tour.

George made headlines for trying to leave after receiving two opportunities.

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First, he had his dream crushed when his teacher raised funds for him to participate in a soccer tournament in Phuket, Thailand in November last year, 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 (DRC).

Then 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 travel document which showed his nationality as South African.

That conflicted 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 plight, Rostoem Simons of Simsport Eagles offered him a spot in the team for a Dubai trip. His exasperated mother said the team, with George, was 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. George’s umpteenth attempt at leaving the country was thwarted yet again. He could not travel with the team to Dubai as he was advised at the airport that the latest passport he received from the deputy minister was cancelled and declared lost and stolen

“What made us decide to take them to court was after the Dubai incident. When I went to Home Affairs to get answers, no one could explain to me properly what happened and it just made me realise that they are heartless,” his mother, Bampende Maskini said.

“I can confirm that we are finalising our court papers which will be soon served at the Department of Home Affairs after their failure to respond to our letter of demand,” attorney Romeo Tsusi said.

Home Affairs had not received the court papers yet and could not respond.

Cape Argus