Johannesburg — South Africa will today start to roll out its new visa rules for children that are set to affect thousands of Zimbabwean travelers.
This means children will need an unabridged birth certificate as well as a passport when leaving or entering the country.
Home Affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni on Friday said that by June 1, no child will cross South African borders without the documents.
“As a department, we are ready to implement the requirements and there will be no child who will not be able to travel because of that,” he said on Tuesday.
In addition to the documents, both parents must provide consent for their children to travel.
If the father did not acknowledge paternity, his consent will not be needed.
If both parents’ names are entered on the unabridged birth certificate, then the child would not be able to travel without consent from both parents.
If a parent has unreasonably refused to give permission for the child to travel, only a court will be able to provide it, according to the department.
“It is only the court of law that can deal with a parent or partner that is unreasonable with her/his consent.
“They have to go to the children’s court, and the court will issue an assent order for the department. Equally, if you put the father in the unabridged certificate, and then cannot find him, then you have to approach the court of law, as the department cannot adjudicate on that matter.”
In the case of parents not being able to provide consent owing to medical reasons such as mental illness, or death – but a death certificate had not been issued by the time of travel – a parent can approach the office of the director general of Home Affairs with a doctor’s certificate.
Apleni said the benefits of the unabridged birth certificates extended to more than just child protection and security, as it was needed to apply for school, medical aid schemes and estates.
He said the department would print pamphlets and the information would be posted on their website.
Unabridged birth certificates will be required for children born between 1996 and February 2013. The government started issuing unabridged birth certificates in March 2013.
According to the department, about 17 million children were born between 1996 and February 2013, and only 1,1 million of those have been issued South African passports.
From today, divorced parents who have joint custody will need to provide permission for their child for travelling, while a person travelling with a child that is not their biological child will need to produce a copy of the unabridged birth certificate and an affidavit from the parents or legal guardians confirming they have permission to travel with the child.
— Mail & Guardian