Kenya, SA lock horns in diplomatic spat

2014-10-17 11:10
Westgate Mall in Kenya. (File, AFP)

Westgate Mall in Kenya. (File, AFP)

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Cape Town – Diplomatic tensions between South Africa and Kenya have hit an all time low, mainly due to SA’s new immigration system.

According to a Mail and Guardian report, officials in Nairobi are perturbed over South Africa’s inability to regulate its immigration policies. In the past year, two accused terrorists, were known to have both used South African travel documents.


Samantha Lewthwaite, who is suspected of being involved in the planning of the Westgate Mall attack in Nairobi in 2013 and Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, an al-Qaeda leader in East Africa, who was apparently behind the bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, both used SA travel documents to evade authorities.

Lewthwaite, known as the "White Widow" has not been seen since she gave Kenyan police the slip in 2011, reportedly using her false South African passport.

Additionally, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to Johannesburg this year was also marred by controversy when airport security forced them to apparently return to Waterkloof airport as the plane manifest had irregularities.

The main issue of contention between the two governments it seems is South Africa’s recent outsourcing of its visa application process to a private firm, VFS Global.

The Mail and Guardian report, that the implementation of the new visa system means that there will be more fees when Kenyans choose to visit SA.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba recently said that SA’s new visa regulations were part of the ministry's new protocols to help improve client services.

The main reason the process has been outsourced is to reduce long queues and ensure that people don’t have to wait an exorbitant amount of time to finally receive their visas, Gigaba said at a media brief.

It seems that Kenya tried to hit back with its own restrictive visa regulations that was supposed to take effect from 1 September but was apparently stalled after outcries from tourism officials both in SA and in Kenya.

Earlier this year News24 reported that South African passport holders were now required to apply for a visa prior to travelling or transiting through Kenya.

The Kenyan High Commission announced in July that South Africans are required to pay a R750 visa fee and visas will no longer be issued on arrival in Kenya.

All applicants will be required to produce the following documents:

1. Return Air Ticket
2. Invitation letter from the host in the Republic of Kenya
3. Letter from employer/Institution/College/School
4. Proof of funds (bank statement)
5. Applicants must appear in Person for Biometrics
6. 2 Passport Photographs

Read more on:    kenya

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