A mother of a 13-year-old boy, who is suing home affairs in South Africa for denying him the opportunity to attend two international soccer tournaments as a result of being issued the wrong travel documents, broke down in Parliament on Tuesday.
Speaking during a meeting of Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs, Bampende Maskini repeated the heartbreaking story of how her son, George, was turned away at the airport twice.
Maskini arrived in South Africa in 2000 as a refugee, and was granted permanent residency in 2008. Her son, George, was born in South Africa.
Last year, George’s plight made headlines, after which deputy home affairs minister Fatima Chohan stepped in, handing George travel documents for a school soccer tournament in Thailand. When George arrived at the airport, he was prevented from boarding the plane, as his travel papers said he was a South African, but the barcode in the document said he was Congolese.
George was offered another trip to a soccer tournament in Dubai. However, his dream of playing overseas was again dashed when he arrived at the airport, and was told his travel documents were flagged as “stolen”, said Maskini.
“That was heartbreaking. George was crying, he was really crying. We were all crying at the airport,” George’s mother told MPs.
The Maskinis have since filed a lawsuit claiming R461 000, and accusing the department of gross negligence.
A home affairs official present during the meeting said a full investigation into Maskini’s claims would be done, asking that the family hand over the documents in their possession so it could be “verified against the system”.