'Love knows no borders': Foreigners plead for lift on SA's travel ban in open letter to the president

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Our partners are waiting for us in SA and we would love to be with them. (LewisTsePuiLung/Getty Images)
Our partners are waiting for us in SA and we would love to be with them. (LewisTsePuiLung/Getty Images)

After a long separation, binational couples affected by the border closures and ban on international travel in South Africa have started the 'Love is not Tourism' movement, calling for government to make it easy for stranded couples to travel and reunite with their loved ones.

Here is their open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa. 


Dear Mr. President,

More than a year ago, I found the love of my life in South Africa while I was visiting the most beautiful city in the world, Cape Town, for the second time.

The last time we saw each other was 9 January 2020 at the airport in Cape Town. I planned to visit her again in April, but little did we know that a virus was about to delay our plans for a long time.

Since 26 March 2020, the Rainbow Nation has been under lockdown - one of the strictest and longest in the world.

And at the time of this writing, I haven’t seen my soulmate for 234 days!

I am not only speaking for myself of course. There are over a thousand other unmarried, binational couples who have been separated from their loved ones in South Africa for at least half a year.


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We do understand that just like most other countries, Mzansi also needed a lockdown and an international travel ban to battle against the pandemic. It has been the most challenging test of patience for those of us in binational relationships.

Mr. President, just like South Africans, we also have been watching all your addresses to the nation since March, hoping for good news every time. Then on 15 August 2020, you finally announced relaxation of the lockdown under Level 2. 

Although borders were to remain shut and the ban on international travel kept in place under Level 2, we were finally happy because we are hopefully one step closer to reuniting with our partners soon.

We really do hope that we won’t be disappointed when Level 1 of the lockdown takes effect, as we’ve been patiently waiting for borders to reopen and international travel to resume with all necessary health and safety protocols in place.

It is disheartening that in 2020, wanting to visit one’s better half is not considered an ‘essential travel’ by most authorities.

This prompted a global online campaign under the hashtag #LoveIsNotTourism, that has led so far at least 12 European countries to open their doors for unmarried couples and more countries are now discussing similar options.

The South African government should also consider facilitating us to reunite with our loved ones in the Rainbow Nation. Even if there is limited international travel, we should be given this opportunity under Level 1.

It goes without saying that we are more than willing to provide proof of our relationships, undergo any necessary Covid-19 testing, quarantine upon arrival if required, wear masks, and adhere to all other health and safety regulations.

Unfortunately, the virus will stay with us for some time, but life must go on. 

Mr. President, to conclude, I’d like to quote The Dalai Lama: “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity can’t survive”.

Everyone has the right to love and so we are kindly requesting and appealing to you to please consider our situation under Level 1 so that we can return to the arms of those we love within this year.

This has been a terrible year for us all. Our partners are waiting for us in South Africa and we would love to be with them soon please. Love knows no race or religions or borders or nationalities.

Traveling for love should always be essential and love will always win in the end.

We thank you for your kind understanding. God bless South Africa! Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika!

The #LoveIsNotTourism SA Team

To find out more about the movement visit #LoveIsNotTourism SA on Facebook or @LuvsEssentialSA on Twitter. 

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