South Africa

Let SA citizens travel, says Home Affairs: Tit for Tat visas imposed on British diplomats

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In a move to lift restrictions on South Africans traveling to the UK, Home Affairs Minister Gigaba has implemented a new policy that requires British diplomats to obtain a visa when visiting South Africa.

For the past four years, all South Africans have required a visa to enter Britain. In 2010, the British government announced that all South Africans, including diplomats, required visas for visits to Britain.

British officials had claimed that South African passports were a security risk, saying that it was fairly easy to produce fraudulent passports.

Britain saw the SA Department of Home Affairs leaky passport issuing system as a major threat to security, particularly from “violent extremists”, reported SA military website, DefenceWeb.

British security and intelligence officials had warned of an increasing risk from terrorists using South Africa as a transit point, and a place to plan attacks.

While some have argued that SA passports have become more secure, there is no sign of these restrictions lifting.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has now retaliated saying that the new requirements are a “reciprocal action”.

After failing to persuade UK officials to allow diplomatic travel without a visa, Gigaba took action. “We therefore decided that we would reciprocate as is an international principle. We still have exempted the ordinary passport holders of Britain,” he said.

Only diplomatic officials will need visas; tourists will not be affected.

The diplomats will need to present themselves in person, and will then be granted a free visa if appropriate.

Gigaba says the policy will be reviewed if the restrictions on SA diplomats are lifted.

“Visiting South Africa is not a foreigner’s right,” said Gigaba. It is “a privilege granted to a foreigner by the South African government” depending on the circumstances.

http://www.thesouthafrican.com/tit-for-tat-visas-imposed-on-british-diplomats

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