Idris Elba. Picture: EPA
Idris Elba. Picture: EPA

Twitter reacts to #IdrisElba visa row

By Botho Molosankwe Time of article published Nov 24, 2015

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Johannesburg - When folks report that celebrities have been turned back for not complying with travel laws, are they suggesting special laws for them?

Spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs Mayihlome Tshwete posed this question to Twitter followers, after some people were up in arms that UK-born actor Idris Elba cancelled his trip to South Africa because he did not have the necessary documents for his daughter who was accompanying him on the trip.

Tshwete asked that question when people attacked the government for their controversial and stricter laws that govern the travelling of children in and out of the country.

He also said Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was stopped and searched while entering France recently, yet some South Africans were only outraged about Elba’s daughter.

Allegations are that Elba was on his way to South Africa with his daughter, Isan, 14, when he was informed about the country’s regulations about travelling with children. Elba was reportedly at Heathrow International Airport at the time and decided to cancel the trip and return home with his daughter.

The news was covered by local and international news websites. It is believed that the purpose of Elba’s trip was to promote his new movie, Mandela, My Dad And Me, and he was supposed to have been here on Sunday.

According to the new rules, parents travelling with children are supposed to also bring an unabridged birth certificate and a letter of consent from the other parent if only one parent is travelling with the child.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba introduced the rules to combat child trafficking. But other people used the news that Elba had cancelled his trip as an opportunity for barbs at the government on social media network sites. Among them was @donscot23, who said the story was bad for South Africa’s tourism and investment.

“But don’t expect the ANC to understand,” he said. However, when Tshwete told him to try travelling abroad without documents and “tell us how it goes”, it quickly went downhill. @donscot23 said: “BTW, thanks to ANC, we can no longer afford to travel overseas.”

“@KarenFourie3 also weighed in, saying “another way SA government clueless with the way they ruin this country. LOL” while The__Gay__One tweeted: “@mgigaba - you will see how South African tourism declines - the same as EVERY pretty thing in SA!”

Tshwete also took issue with those who portrayed Elba as a victim of the country’s laws. He tweeted: “Someone tries to come to SA and doesn’t comply with travel laws, and media says he is a victim, we get turned back abroad and we deserved it.”

The Star

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