It’s ‘absolute bollocks’ says Gigaba over claims that hated visa regulations were ‘personal’

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Image: Esa Alexander/The Times

Home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba has vehemently denied allegations that he tightened regulations for children travelling into and out of South Africa because of a personal vendetta.

He was forced to make the denial after journalist-turned-author Redi Tlhabi took to Twitter on Tuesday night to slate Gigaba‚ who had earlier in the day announced that the much-criticised visa regulations were being loosened.

“Minister when are we going to have the real conversation? When are you going to be honest with the nation and tell us why you were adamant that your brainless visa regulations for travelling with minors were personal? That we all had to toe the line because you had a domestic issue?‚” Tlhabi tweeted. 

“Is it not true that you were livid when a cousin of your ex-wife travelled with your daughter Lerato‚ whilst your wife was in Cuba? Upon finding out‚ you laid charges of kidnapping... even though you knew your ex-wife’s cousin very well & your daughter was quite happy with her?” she continued. 

“You had a personal issue of your ex-wife making travel arrangements with your daughter without your consent‚ so you decided ‘I’ll sort this problem out?’ You implemented untested regulations‚ claiming to address child trafficking? Have your regulations brought child trafficking down?” Tlhabi said as part of the thread. 

In 2015‚ the department introduced stringent laws on travelling with children‚ arguing that this was to combat child trafficking. The rule stated that all children needed an unabridged birth certificate along with their passport before they were allowed to pass customs. Written consent was also needed from the child’s parents if they weren’t traveling together.

Tlhabi said Gigaba’s u-turn on the laws had made her believe the allegations that this matter had nothing to do with child trafficking.

Contacted by the publication‚ Gigaba’s spokesperson Thabo Mokgola said: “The minister views these tweets as irresponsible and unfortunate.”

But on SABC’s Morning Live on Wednesday‚ Gigaba denied Thlabi’s claims. About six minutes into the interview‚ Gigaba was pressed about the allegations that the law was personal.

“No no‚ my child was not trafficked. It’s absolute hogwash‚” he said.

In a bid to boost tourism, the Department of Home Affairs has relaxed some of the travel requirements to make it easy for travellers to visit South Africa. The department says it admits about 10 million international visitors to the country annually, including tourists, business travellers, investors and neighbours. It has therefore committed to playing an active part in increasing these numbers. It is also finalising a number of visa waiver agreements with other countries, allowing travellers from those countries to enter SA without a visa.

“I know the person who tweeted about that; she was talking about something that was absolute bollocks. My child was not a victim of trafficking.

“I knew what was happening and why it was happening‚ and the issue really related to my daughter missing school days. It had nothing to do with trafficking. And I would never bring a personal issue into my professional work. As I say‚ it’s absolute bollocks‚ to bring my personal experience into this‚” he said.

Gigaba said “I wouldn’t walk into office sharing personal baggage that I was going to dump onto the department”.

“These regulations had been worked on by the department while I was minister of public enterprises‚ and as I walked in [to home affairs] they were here sitting on my desk. We finalised them and I had to announce and introduce them.

“I think ignorance is bliss because it allows you to tweet anything that you wish‚ and you have absolutely no responsibility when you do so… I think Redi Thlabi was absolutely ignorant and very irresponsible in her tweet in bringing my child into this issue‚” he said.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

X