THIS had the potential of becoming another Home Affairs horror story. A young woman nearly missed out on an all-expenses-paid overseas trip, all because officials at Home Affairs said her lips were "too small" for a passport.
That is until acting Joburg Metro Police chief David Tembe put a call to Sowetan. We in turn called Home Affairs. A frantic rush to process the passport started at the department's headquarters in Pretoria.
Just before 6pm last night, this SMS came through: "The passport is ready, you can come with your team."
It was from the department's spokesperson Cleo Mosana, who had earlier promised to pull out all stops to help S'lindile Tshabalala, who, with three church-mates at the Youth Alliance Ministry in Jabulani, Soweto, have been invited to join their counterparts in Germany for the next three weeks.
Records show that Tshabalala, 20, applied for her passport in May, but as her mates were preparing to jet out on Wednesday night, Tshabalala, of Glenridge in Soweto, could not travel because she had not yet received her passport.
So they left without her.
"She cried herself to sleep because her mates left her behind. She was so shattered I did not know what to do. She wanted to retreat to KwaZulu-Natal. I have lost count of the number of times we have been to the Home Affairs offices," said Tshabalala's mother Dudu.
The mother said Home Affairs officials had been telling them to take new photos because her daughter's lips were "too small".
But Tshabalala's dream of visiting Germany was rekindled yesterday after Sowetan put a call through to Home Affairs.
She received her passport and will now leave tonight.