S.Africa slaps tit-for-tat visa rule on UK officials

25th September 2014, Comments 0 comments

The South African government has slapped visa requirements on British diplomats and officials in a tit-for-tat move, Pretoria announced Thursday.

The "reciprocal measure" was taken in response to Britain's introduction in 2010 of visa requirements for all South Africans, including the holders of diplomatic and official passports, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said.

Ordinary British citizens will, however, retain the right to travel to South Africa without a visa.

Pretoria had tried in vain for years to "persuade" London to review its visa requirements and at least exempt officials, Gigaba said.

"We therefore decided that we would reciprocate as (that) is an international principle. We still have exempted the ordinary passport holders of Britain," he said.

South Africa, which put the new rules into effect on September 1, will continue to press Britain to review its visa requirements.

"We would like a situation where the British would heed our request for them to re-introduce a visa exemption for South Africans but we are certainly not on our knees," Gigaba said.

British officials wanting to visit South Africa -- formerly part of the British empire -- would have to apply in person for a visa at the South African High Commission in London.

"They are required to present themselves at the South African High Commission in London. Like everybody else they must apply in person and we will interview them. We will grant them a visa if we deem it necessary."

He said government had been "lenient" on British officials because their visa applications would be free of charge.


© 2014 AFP

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