Because genuine South African passports can be so easily bought from fraudulent officials, the UK is imposing visa restrictions from March on all 400,000 South Africans who visit the Commonwealth country each year, it was announced in SA 's parliament.
South Africa's Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula -- whose own department is infamous among international crime investigators for its out-of-control fraud -- made the announcement in parliament on Monday. South Africans have never had to apply for travel visa for the UK, even at the height of apartheid.
Opposition politicians said it was a sad commentary on the decline of their country: during apartheid, many countries, albeit never the UK, would not allow South Africans to visit them. Yet now, thirteen years after it has ended, endemic government corruption, global criminal networks and South Africa's total lack of control on its own borders have wiped that welcoming smile from the face of foreign authorities.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the UK official informed her that they have "based their decision on its concerns regarding the ease with which non-South Africans can acquire genuine SA travel documents" and use them to travel to the UK."
In 2007, 419,000 South Africans travelled to the UK legally, including 168,000 tourists and 46,200 business visitors.They are the fifth largest group of visitors to Britain behind those from the USA, Australia, Canada and Japan. And the largest single group of skilled expats working in the UK also are from South Africa.
Indeed immigration officials worldwide have become very wary of South African passports from Indonesia to London.
UK stuck with unwanted people with genuine SA passports:
Only a year ago, Mapisa-Nqakula had met her British counterpart John Reid, to discuss Britain's growing concerns about being stuck with unwanted people purporting to be South African. The UK, he told her, 'had a major problem with unwanted foreigners who had South African passports.' She refused to accept responsibility for the problem however.
SA Police Service
Customs officials worldwide are aware that South African passports, while perfectly genuine, often are issued fraudulently to illegal African migrants, criminals and terrorists, purchased from SA officials at the Home Affairs dept. This passport was genuine, issued to a foreign national, arrested by the SA police when they spotted the name, "Matric Examsion'.
There now are so many genuine South African passports in circulation, being issued by fraudulent South African officials to illegal migrants, refugees and criminals, that it is beginning to create a major head-ache for international law enforcement officials.
International investigators say that very few of the SA passports are actually forged - the vast majority are genuine, bought from corrupt officials. And these genuine South African passports are in demand among criminal syndicates stretching across the globe. see
Now all South Africans are going to suffer from the criminals inside the Home Affairs office who have been making fortunes out of issuing genuine South African passports to non-South Africans for years.
Mapisa-Nqakula actually interrupted a parliamentary debate to make the dramatic announcement that she had just received a 'formal communication from the UK government, ... informing me that... they have now decided to introduce a visa requirement for South African citizens.'
Following her shock announcement, there was an immediate shout of "It's an indictment!" from the opposition benches in the House. Mapisa-Nqakula replied: "It is an indictment, and I think... all of us should take responsibility for that."
The imposition of a visa requirement is set to affect over 400,000 South Africans who visit the United Kingdom each year as tourists, on business, or in transit.
"Abuse of the South African passport remains a serious concern," the British High Commission in Pretoria said in a statement earlier on Monday afternoon."It has been one of the most abused passports detected at UK border posts."
It said South Africans featured "prominently" among passengers being refused entry on arrival in the UK.
In the last two years there had also been a significant increase in the number of South Africans working illegally or overstaying their leave to remain in the UK.
The commission said that from March 3, South African passport holders would require a visa in order to visit or transit the UK. However until mid-2009, South Africans who had previously travelled to the UK on their current passport would be exempt from the requirement.
Visas are currently required only for other categories of entrants, including students and people working in the UK. High Commissioner Paul Boateng said they are 'still committed to continuing to welcome South Africans travelling for legitimate reasons to the UK.'
South Africans would now join the nearly 75 percent of the world's population who had to get visas for the UK, he said.
SA a major transit point for terrorists:
Athough the statement was downplayed the issue of terrorism, listing it as only one of a number of factors that were weighed up in the visa decision, media have linked the move to fears that South Africa has become a transit point for al-Qaeda operatives to gain entry to Britain.
Associated Press' London office on Monday quoted unnamed "security officials" as saying South Africa had become a new base for terrorist activity.
However Peter Gastrow of the SA Institute for Security Studies downplayed these claims, saying that there has been 'a general hardening of attitudes towards migration in the United Kingdom and some other European countries."
Asked whether South Africa would retaliate with visa requirements for Britons, foreign affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said there was "no such decision by government".
South Africans are the fifth largest group of visitors to Britain behind those from the USA, Australia, Canada and Japan. see