Rasool saves day in visa drama

2006-08-14 23:10

Cape Town - The eldest son of a woman who had been declared brain-dead, arrived from Zimbabwe on Sunday night with the aid of Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool to decide with his brothers and sisters on their mother's fate.

Ian Austen of Harare was reunited with the rest of his family at Groote Schuur Hospital where the children were at the bedside of their mother, Colleen Austen, of Muizenberg.

Ian's brother, John, said: "The Zimbabwean consultate did not want to issue a visa for Ian to travel to South Africa, in spite of requests from the family and documents from the doctors.

"Officials would not and could not give reasons why they did not want to, or could not, issue a visa. They threatened him with arrest and deportation."

Rasool pleased he could help

John said that, in desperation, he had called in Rasool's

Rasool told Die Burger on Monday he had asked his office for international relations to investigate Ian's case very discreetly and to help where they could.

"I'm very relieved the man has been reunited with his family," he said.

Ian and brothers John, Steve and Colin, with sisters Cara and Patricia, must decide whether they will give their permission for the machines keeping their mother alive to be switched off.

Her condition is critical after she and her husband, Tony, were attacked in their house in Muizenberg. He died shortly after the attack.

A grieving John said his mother had been declared brain-dead. "I'm just glad Ian, the eldest, is here now to help with the decision."

Allowed to leave without visa

John added that initially Zimbabwean officials did not want to allow Ian on to the plane to Johannesburg.

But, after several phone calls, they let him go to South Africa without a visa.

"He had almost no problems at the airport in Johannesburg and could fly here immediately."

John said, however, they did not know whether Ian would be as lucky with his return: "We'll just have to wait and see what happens then."