US doctor, three children to be deported from SA

2015-06-29 18:19
OR Tambo Airport (File, AFP)

OR Tambo Airport (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg – A doctor at the Mayo Clinic in the US and her three children are going to be deported from OR Tambo International Airport on Monday night after she arrived without the necessary travel documents.

Martina Mookadam’s husband was travelling from the UK with her and their three children, aged 10, 14, and 15, when he was called to treat a patient from the royal family of a state in the Middle East, Gift of the Givers founder, Imtiaz Sooliman, said in a statement.

The husband is a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, in Arizona. They were on their way to visit family in South Africa.

The family contacted Sooliman for help after immigration officials stopped Mookadam and the children from entering South Africa. Mookadam did not have the children's unabridged birth certificates and an affidavit from the absent parent, as South Africa’s new travel laws require.

When she landed at OR Tambo International Airport “they refused to listen to anything she had to say”, Sooliman said.

She and her children were being held in a detention centre at the airport and would be deported on a flight at 19:20 on Monday.

“Martina was not allowed to even ask which flight they were being deported on. She offered to get a stamped letter signed by her husband and sent from a police station in the United States. It was flatly refused,” Sooliman said.

Home affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said they sympathised, but could not bend the rules.

“Even if we completely sympathise with the type of work the doctor has to do, our immigration officers can’t allow people to come into the country undocumented.”

No exception could be made, even in case like this, where one of the parents had to be called away for an emergency.

“We don’t allow our immigration officers to make those type of decisions. That will have to come from a DG [director general] or a political principal. If an immigration official makes that decision, the department of home affairs is liable for anything that happens to those children.

“If exceptions are to be made, which they rarely are, it’s the result of an appeal to the minister or to the DG. It would be unfair on the immigration officer to make that type of decision.”

Sooliman said the matter would result in bad publicity for South Africa in the US and deter potential tourists from coming here.

“The US has very strict travel requirements for children,” Tshwete said.

“Even if we had a South African doctor, who is revered, going to the US without the necessary documents, the same would happen to him.

“We would be setting a very terrible precedent by saying that if you are an esteemed member of the public you don’t have to adhere to the laws.”

Read more on:    gift of the givers  |  us  |  travel

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
144 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
PARTNER CONTENT
INFOGRAPHIC: New thinking required for retirement

Everything we believe about retirement is fast becoming outdated.

PARTNER CONTENT
WATCH: How education can change a life

A university education gives students the chance to create a better future for themselves, their families and to opportunity achieve their dreams.

/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.