The concerns of human trafficking acting as a driving force for South Africa's new immigration regulations are said to 'defy understanding in the context of economic growth'.
Today, 1 June, the requirement kicked in for minors to be in possession of an unabridged birth certificate (UBC) to be allowed in and out of South Africa.
The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) said in a press briefing last week that this requirement seeks to establish the principle that minors have the consent of their parents when travelling in or out of the Republic. According to reports, the DHA cited the prevention of human trafficking as the reasoning for this regulation.
“Several cases were reported of girls, some as young as six, who were smuggled into South Africa, others in car boots, who ended up in the hands of syndicates, rapists and human traffickers,” said Director-General, Mkuseli Apleni, in Parliament in April.
However, according to South Africa’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) the legislation emanating from the DHA is “tantamount to economic sabotage”.
According to Beverley Schafer, DA Western Cape’s spokesperson on economic opportunities, tourism and agriculture, “The DHA seems to be pursuing a blanket approach to curb child trafficking yet reports indicate that the reality of the situation remains vague."
"The 2014 Trafficking in Persons report states that South African citizens and foreign nationals are subjected to human trafficking mainly within the country,” this was in a 79 page document tabled to the provincial parliament and National Assembly.
(READ MORE: S.Africa’s tourism sector could lose billions due to new visa policy)
A statement by Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) said the figure that 30 000 children are being trafficked annually is inaccurate.
“Stats produced by SAPS on the actual number of children going missing in SA is not even 2% of this estimate,” said David Frost, CEO of SATSA.
Schafer said that she believes the DHA is making a serious mistake that will cost South Africa thousands of jobs without any proper preparation or consultations with the industry and affected stakeholders.
She added that, “unabridged birth certificates will save no children but merely create more red tape and cost thousands of parents their jobs.”
The Department of Home Affairs refused to comment on the issue of human trafficking justifying the enactment of this regulation.
According to SACCI there has been reports that airlines are doing all they can to ensure that their passengers are assisted so as to avoid disappointment once landing in South Africa. However, their efforts have been frustrated by “bureaucratic bungling”.
SACCI calls for government to face the economic realities.