Concern over new child traveling regulations

Busisiwe Ntsele(L) walks her daughter Thembi Ntsele to Florida Prmary school in Johannesburg. Pic: Nigel Sibanda.

The public remain uninformed of the implications of new regulations applicable to parents travelling abroad with minors, civil rights group AfriForum said.

AfriForum Worldwide Campaign head Sue-Ann de Wet said the new regulations stipulated that a child under the age of 18-years-old leaving the country had to be in possession of a birth certificate indicating the names of both parents.

To date, only a passport and abridged birth certificate were required.

“An unaccompanied minor, or a child travelling with one parent or guardian, must have affidavits by the parents in which they indicate their consent,” said De Wet.

“The regulations will now come into effect on October 1, but this will not necessarily allow enough time to get all required documentation in place.”

De Wet added government had acted too hastily in the matter.

“While AfriForum supports the new regulations in principle, because these will curb human trafficking and prevent the abduction of children, the application thereof remains problematic,” she said.

The Department of Home Affairs this week announced a grace period allowing children to travel with parents or guardians without an unabridged birth certificate until the end of September.

Department spokesperson David Hlabane said this meant families could travel with children during the coming school holidays, as some families would have arranged their trips ahead of the commencement of the Immigration Amendment Acts of 2007 and 2011 and the new Immigration Regulations.

“The amendment Acts and the new regulations came into effect on May 26,” said Hlabane, who urged citizens and foreign nationals to heed the call to apply for unabridged birth certificates for children.

“An unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents is required in terms of Immigration Regulation 6 (12)(a) for children travelling with parents,” he said.

AfriForum requested the establishment of a dedicated communication channel through which the public can obtain advice on unique situations, and to create proper awareness among the public and public service personnel of all the implications of the new regulations.

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