File photo: The officers are the same group of high-ranking officials who were illegally transferred from their posts at the airport in 2013.
File photo: The officers are the same group of high-ranking officials who were illegally transferred from their posts at the airport in 2013.

Parents unfazed by new visa laws

By LERATO MBANGENI, ILANIT CHERNICK AND BARBARA COLE Time of article published Jun 3, 2015

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Johannesburg - Parents coming into and leaving OR Tambo International Airport seemed unfazed by the new immigration regulations requiring that travellers have unabridged birth certificates for children travelling with them.

Many, like Sally Lewis, seemed prepared for the changes.

“After we booked our flight with British Airways, they sent us an e-mail telling us about the new regulations. They said it’s fine. We we have the certificate and the baby is travelling with both of us, but if it was just me we’d have to have a letter from him or something,” Lewis, an American citizen who was travelling with her husband said.

Another mother, who identified herself only as Rose, and carried her son in her arms, said she was happy about the regulations.

“It’s really great that it’s happening because it can help against child trafficking. It’s really sad. If that happened to my son I would kill myself,” she said hugging her child closer.

On Monday, confusion reigned around the new regulations that have caused an outcry.

Although Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba vowed the new immigration regulations would be in place, his officials appear not to have taken heed. His spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete could not comment on why officials were not asking for the unabridged birth certificates.

The Star visited OR Tambo to find travellers walking through customs without being asked for unabridged birth certificates for their children.

Vivian and Lynne Alexander came from Israel with their 19-month-old son, arriving on Monday morning on an overnight flight as South African citizens. They were not asked for an unabridged birth certificate despite having the document.

Up until two weeks ago, the regulations were a concern for overseas parents wanting to adopt South African children. “Adoptions have already been decreasing. When we first heard about this regulation in September, we were told by Home Affairs there’d be no exceptions,” Katinka Pieterse, programme director at Abba Adoptions and Social Services, said.

Pieterse said the visa regulations would delay the intercountry process of adoption causing parents coming from overseas to be stuck in South Africa for over a year, because of all the red tape surrounding the new regulations.

“It takes months for international parents to adopt and this would prolong it because of amendment processes, court orders and getting hold of unabridged birth certificates,” Pieterse said.

The National Adoption Coalition South Africa met officials in an attempt to get an easier process put into place and believes the regulations may protect children if implemented correctly..

“We have 250 adoptions a year and we understood that if some sort of easier process was not put in place, it would deter intercountry adoptions from taking place.”

There was concern about children born in illegal clinics, who were abandoned and didn’t have birth certificates. “It’s something we are addressing so these children can be adopted locally or internationally,” she said.

Home Affairs came up with a standard operating procedure that should keep the international adoption process to a few months.



The Star

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