Soccer fan's African trek thrown into disarray over Ethiopian visa
Botha Msila and his Zimbabwean travelling companion Alvin Zhakata have appealed to the South African and Zimbabwean governments for assistance after being stuck in Kenya during their hitchhiking trip to Egypt for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).
They were denied entry at the border of Ethiopia yesterday after failing to produce visas. It would cost them R750 each for an Ethiopian visa.
The pair crossed four borders using passports in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and Kenya. They still have to go through to Sudan before connecting to Egypt. A Sudanese visa costs R750.
“We have been here for over eight hours (4pm yesterday). We have come a long way to be stuck here. We are only left with two counties to get to Egypt. We therefore appeal to the two governments to at least come together and assist where they can for us to get to Egypt,” said Msila.
Msila, 45, an unemployed father-of-two from Bloemfontein, said he did not think visas would be needed when he was preparing for the journey. He also did not budget for them.
“I was surprised when I got to the border and was asked for a visa. I thought that as I am an African, I don’t need a visa to get into another African country,” said Msila.
He said he had hitchhiked to save money, and was going to come back home on a flight.
“I had enough money to fly back home, I was then hoping that this method will save me some money for other necessities when I get to Egypt,” said Msila.
The Bloemfontein Celtic fan had embarked on his journey last Thursday, inspired by his passion for soccer.
By Wednesday, he and Zhakata had reached Kenya, which brought them about 5000km closer to fulfilling their mission.
Msila said they were told at the border to pay $50 (R745) each for visas and had to reach out to some friends back home for assistance.
“A friend is sending us some money. But if we will be required to pay for the remaining borders in Sudan and Egypt, we will just have to come back home,” he said.
He said they faced many challenges. “We were robbed of some of the money we had because we were not familiar with some currencies. We also had to get people to translate some languages for us and we had to pay them and tip some of the police who let us through the borders.
“It’s a lot to take in, but we survived. It’s a pity that we may have to head back home because of the visa issue. After so many videos we posted on Twitter, we are starting to think that both governments don’t care about us,” Msila said.
He had tried to call the South African embassy in Kenya but nobody answered.
Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said the situation was out of their hands.
“Unfortunately, if it’s a case of being denied a visa, there's very little South Africa can do. Each country determines its visa regime and reserves the right to deny anyone they don’t want to come to their country based on their rules,” he said.