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South Africa Passports Changed to Protect

Passengers gather at the South African Airways (SAA) customer desk in Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Taken 3.20.2020

Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi says that the flexibility afforded to passport applications and collections in South Africa is being removed to protect the integrity of the document.

The massive change follows high-profile cases of fraud and corruption involving passports in recent months which have damaged the country’s reputation and brought the security of the South African passport into question.

Motsoaledi highlights that department officials were arrested for fraudulently processing illegal immigrants where Bangladeshi and Pakistani citizens were caught using false South African passports abroad.

Motsoaledi adds that the fraud cases have put South Africa and its passport security in a particularly a suspicions place.

“It is for this reason that the Department of Home Affairs has to do something – because this state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue unabated.”

The department of Home Affairs in South Africa says it is withdrawing the transit visa exemption for Bangladesh and Pakistan starting from August 1st, 2022 because of the cases involving citizens from Bangladesh and Pakistan trying to pass through South Africa’s airports illegally.

Travellers from these countries are now required to apply for a visa when transiting through South Africa.

Locally, however, South Africans will also see certain privileges revoked.

Motsoaledi announced that major actions will be taken to protect the security of the South African passport by ending transferrable and third-party collections and creating a new activation process that can only be completed by the applicant.

Motsoaledi says that this new process is the same method being used in smart ID cards. He stressed that any passports collected in any other way will be of no use, as they will not be activated.

The other measure is a technological one, which will be revealed once it has gone through the necessary processes.

“We know this will be inconvenience to some frequent travellers and those pressed for time, but everyone needs to be prepared to make sacrifices to protect the integrity of the passport.” Motsoaledi said.

The minister clarified that there is nothing called an “emergency passport” in South Africa and that the so-called emergency passport is a hand-written document only made available to South Africans stranded abroad.