On a recent trip from Zimbabwe, we got to the Beitbridge border post and realised that we were supposed to have copies of our children’s birth certificates. I knew about the directive that if a child was traveling with a single parent or a guardian they had to have an affidavit and accompanying documents to prove they had the consent of the other spouse or the parents of the child. But I was not aware that even if both parents were present you still needed the birth certificate of the children to prove that you are both the parents of that particular child.

I remembered that I had uploaded copies of birth certificates onto a cloud service. So I went onto the cloud service (Mediafire) and downloaded a copy of the two birth certificates in PDF format onto my smart phone. I figured since the requirements don’t specify whether the copies must be hard or soft copies, we should be fine and I was ready to fight!

On arriving at the Zimbabwe immigration office at Beitbridge there was a notice on the window at the counter which specified the documents one needed to have. The officer didn’t ask for anything and we got our passports stamped. On the South African side we handed our passports over to the officer and immediately she said we had to have the required documents. We told her we didn’t know that we needed a birth certificate since we were both present. And she said there was no way of proving that they were our children. So my wife asked if we could use the hospital cards. And the officer said yes let us see them, and she also said we could use our medical aid cards.

While my wife was searching for the hospitals cards I told the officer that I had soft copies of the birth certificates. She immediately said yes you can use those as well. So I switched my phone on which I had switched off to save power. I opened the PDF and handed the phone over the officer. The officer was so thrilled by the use of technology that she passed my phone around the office showing the other offices. It brought genuine smiles on their faces and they became more cheerful as they served me that I overlooked the fact that we had waited over 6hours so we could get our passports stamped. I commend the Home Affairs department for embracing technology

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