The Home Affairs department is considering the use of family advocates to make it easier for single parents to travel in and out of the country with children, Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Tuesday.
The minister and his team were briefing Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs on the progress of recommendations by the inter-ministerial committee on the unintended consequences of the immigration regulations.
Gigaba said one of the concerns raised with them was that if one partner had disappeared or was being uncooperative; parents would not be able to travel.
“The department cannot say in that regard we waive the regulations, because they must apply to everyone,” he said.
He said parents had been advised to seek a high court interdict to allow children of single parents to travel.
He said they had a number of cases of parents whose children left the country without consent, leading to parents taking action against the department.
Gigaba said they were exploring the possibility of using family advocates, instead of the high court.
“To provide us with that order that would enable us to allow parents to travel with their children. But they are still considering the matter.”
He said this solution contained a few risks.
“After all, a family advocate is not a court and they do not have the power of the court. We were just trying in this instance to assist single parents who were complaining about the travel.”
Over 4 400 minors were refused permission to enter or leave the country during the festive season.
2 753 were South African citizens, and 1 652 were foreigners.
School tours were also under the spotlight, with the department explaining the measures in place to make it easier for groups of children to travel.
The minister also took the committee through the approval of the 10-year multiple entry visas to frequent business and academic travellers from Africa.
During the next three-month immediate phase, which followed the Cabinet decision to amend the strict visa regulations for travel in and out of SA, the decision was made to grant frequent business and academic travellers multiple entry visitor’s visa for a period exceeding three months and up to three years.
Biometric capturing capacity at ports of entry were also a priority, the minister said.
The department of home affairs started training officials to capture biometric data at South Africa’s international airports in November, as part of the enhanced Movement Control System (eMCS) biometric pilot programme.
Gigaba insisted that safety was at the forefront of all decisions made by the department.[Source: Traveller24]