South Africa: Biometric Information On Tourists Necessary

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Pretoria — Home Affairs Director General Mkhuseli Apleni says it is necessary to have fingerprints of all tourists or travellers visiting the country.

Apleni said this helps to identify the person especially when a crime has been committed.

Speaking at a meeting attended by key tourism and immigration stakeholders in Pretoria, earlier today, Apleni emphasised the importance of taking fingerprints of all the people visiting the country.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss developments on the immigration regulations.

Last year in April, the Department of Home Affairs introduced the Biometric system which captures travellers’ fingerprints at South Africa’s international airports.

At the time, the department said the biometric capturing system will be rolled out at six of South Africa’s busiest land ports of entry.

With regard to delays, Apleni said they are currently working on ways to avoid delays especially at OR Tambo International Airport.

Apleni shared his hope that all other countries would follow suit using the biometric system to avoid delays at ports of entry.

“People don’t have to wait long to have their fingerprints taken. Capturing of fingerprints of foreign nationals helps identify them when a crime has been committed. We also want to know every individual who is in the country,” he said.

Currently, the system is being used at OR Tambo International Airport and is expected to be rolled out at other major airports.

Aneme Malan, Deputy Director-General at the Department of Tourism, said the department is working closely with the Department of Home Affairs with regard to visa regulations.

Malan said there has been an increase in the number of tourists arriving in the country.

“As a sector we feel we haven’t reached our potential as yet, there are some areas that needs further engagement and we will continue to engage with the department,” she said.

Traveling with children

She emphasised the importance of having children’s details when traveling outside the country.

In June 2015, stricter requirements were put in place for children under the age of 18 and travelling to or from South Africa, whether they are citizens or from abroad.

A Parental Consent Affidavit must accompany an Unabridged Birth Certificate or Equivalent Document when any parent is not travelling with his or her child.

Parents traveling with their children are required to apply at any Home Affairs office for a fee of R75. They need to take their Identity Documents and the child’s abridged birth certificate. South Africans abroad can apply at their closest embassy.

The new law is aimed at curbing child trafficking.

According to the Department of Home Affairs, data systems for recording arrivals and departures at ports of entry, for June 2015 — 132 353 children were processed, both arrivals and departures. Of these, 1 878 were recorded as having not met requirements, placing compliance levels at 98%. June arrival of foreign children was around 57 436, with departures at 74 917.

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