Tit-for-tat visas for Brits: ‘Visiting SA is not a foreigner’s right’

2014-09-25 14:06

Holders of British diplomatic and official passports now have to apply for visas before travelling to South Africa, but ordinary British passport holders don’t need a visa.

This is South Africa’s tit-for-tat response to the 2010 decision that all South African passport holders – including diplomats and officials – needed a visa to enter the United Kingdom.

“The British government, in 2010, announced visa requirements for all South Africans – ordinary, official, and diplomatic. We therefore decided that we would reciprocate as is an international principle,” Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said today.

He said Pretoria had tried in vain to “persuade” London officials to at least exempt officials when they visited the country.

“Ordinary passport holders, such as tourists, will remain unaffected by this new requirement. As from September 1, the department began implementing the visa requirements for British diplomatic and passport holders.”

British officials, if they wanted to travel to Pretoria, were required to approach the South African mission.

“They are required to present themselves at the South African High Commission in London. Like everybody else they must apply in person and we will interview them. We will grant them a visa if we deem it necessary.

“Visiting South Africa is not a foreigner’s right [but] a privilege granted to a foreigner by the South African government depending on whether we are satisfied about the purpose of your visit.”

Gigaba said the government had been “lenient” on British officials because their visa applications were free of charge.

South Africa hoped to engage further with the British government on the visa debacle in the hope of reciprocal scrapping of visa requirements.

“We would like a situation where the British would heed our request for them to reintroduce a visa exemption for South Africans but we are certainly not on our knees,” said Gigaba.

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