‘Irritant’ in British relations with SA up for discussion

2013-08-28 12:30

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Visas for travel to the UK – an “irritant” in British relations with South Africa – will be one of the topics up for discussion at a ministerial meeting between the two countries in Cape Town next month.

Outgoing British High Commissioner Dame Nicola Brewer said in an interview at her residence in Pretoria this morning the visa requirement, introduced in 2009, has been one of the irritants in relations with South Africa.

“South Africans said to us: ‘We were angry when you imposed the visas, but we understand why you did,’” she said. “Visas are definitely on the agenda for (the bilateral ministerial meeting on) September 10 and it is one of the issues we will continue to discuss.”

There was an outcry when the visas were introduced after South Africans had been allowed to travel freely to and from the UK before.

Brewer said the visas were introduced, not because South Africans were a problem, but because of non-South Africans getting hold of South African passports fraudulently.

She added that more than 90% of South Africans applying for visas were granted the visas.

Brewer implied that visas could be done away with in future.

In June, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor said South Africa was considering imposing a visa requirement on UK officials and diplomats in what was considered to be a tit-for-tat measure.

City Press understands that British officials held talks with their South African counterparts about the revamp of South African passports and identity documents, and they have been “hugely impressed” by the systems put in place.

This could signal a step in the right direction if South Africa wants to return to its former visa-free status.

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