In 17 days my family and I will be heading off to our bi yearly winter holiday to our family home in chilly South Africa. After over coming the shock that we would need to travel with a set of documents as long as my arm we were relieved to hear that we, tourists and expats, had been given a reprieve until the 1st of October we are rather excited about our trip.
But the whole issue over the documents got me thinking about why South Africa is having to go to such lengths to ensure that all children need to be properly identified along with their parents and unlike some members of the public who are berating the new laws it dawned on me that child trafficking was becoming such an enormous problem because these documents, although always required were never checked. South Africa is about to become the only country in the world that will require children under 18 to produce an unabridged birth certificate in addition to a passport when entering, departing or in transit through South Africa.
Quite frankly this is not really an issue for us considering that we applied for my son’s unabridged birth certificate when we applied for his normal one and his South African passport but according to some the new immigration laws could cost South Africa R6.8 billion a year in loss of tourism, and already there are several court cases are already pending as a result of the new regulations which will come into effect on the 1st October. True the new law did not give many travelers enough time to ensure that the documents are ready considering the South African Home Affairs is currently taking anywhere from 6 weeks to 4 months to issue an unabridged birth certificate.
But if one considers the flip side of the coin, will the law make South Africa less susceptible to child trafficking? Will the new regulations put the administrative burden directly on the visitor and will it really cause a significant hindrance to travelers? Quite frankly, I don’t think so, most of tourists traveling to RSA plan their holidays months in advance and unabridged birth certificates are not as foreign as we like to think they are, so roll on our South African holiday! Hopefully one day soon we might not even have to book that return ticket!