Zimbabweans in South Africa, its a good idea to have your permits verified by @HomeAffairsSA to avoid issues at ports of entry. I had a horrible incident at OR Tambo International Airport last month when I was going to Zimbabwe for the Creativism Exhibition.
On my way to Zim my passport was passed between two immigration officials, something about trouble scanning. I just thought, well this happens all the time. The second one takes it to a side office & says he will be back shortly. I could see them behind a tinted window, 3 officers in front of a computer. At this point the plane is already boarding at OR Tambo. After a few minutes the officer comes out with my passport in hand and beckons me to come. My heart just sank. What now I thought to myself. Surely I was going to miss my flight now.
I enter and they ask me where I got my permit from. I explain to them my process and how this was a renewal and it had been issued to me from @VFSGlobal in JHB. They then check on @VFSGlobal website to see if it was issued from there and sure enough there it was. They then said just cos it was issued by @VFSGlobal it doesn’t mean that its legit. So then I asked whats the problem? They said your permit appears on the system but there is some information missing. They showed me on screen stuff that I didn’t understand.
I told them only you know what is missing and what needs to be done to rectify this. As far as I know my application was correct and complete. As far as I know @VFSGlobal would not accept my application if there was stuff missing and the adjudicators at @HomeAffairsSA wouldn’t issue me with a permit if there was something missing. So fact I got it means its not on my part.
Then I said okay so what is the way forward because my plane is boarding and gates close in less than 10 minutes. One officer said don’t worry about your flight, this is a serious issue. So I asked again, what needs to be done cos I need to be on this flight. That officer then said “you are a man you know what to do.” All along I had been calm knowing my stuff is in order. If there was a discrepancy. It certainly wasn’t from my side. So when he said you are a man you know what to do.
I told him what a man like me does. I told him I have a wife and 3 kids. There is no way I can afford to be illegal here in SA. If I was not legal I wouldn’t be here. I did it respectfully, conversationally, I don’t believe in shouting and ranting, I was once a civil servant. They are people just like us. I raised the point that I had been in and out of SA through various ports since I have had this permit. I have had my biometrics captured. And this has never come up. To which they could not answer me. I asked them politely if they could just let me get on the plane.
The supervisor then said something to the officer in the vernacular and we went back to the counter, he stamped my passport. He then said if you come back through this port you will definitely not get through. I wasn’t concerned about that. I was thinking of the trek to the boarding gate. He wrote a restriction on the passport “Verify on entry”. I left and ran, and ran! I managed to board the plane.
On arrival to Zimbabwe I went to the SA embassy to find out what that condition meant. At the SA embassy they said I had to submit copies of bio page, permit page and page with restriction. They would send to Pretoria for verification. Its all done via email so should take 5-7 working days. So I thought cool. Since am around. After the prescribed time, I needed to go back to SA, no call came from the embassy. I went back to the embassy and they said I just have to wait. But I needed to go back to work.
I asked if I would be granted entry If I went to the port of entry and she said you can go and “try your luck”. That day I got an email and number from the @HomeAffairsSA website for verification and called the number. Lady told me to send the docs and she said it would take 30 working days and you can travel. If they give you any issues they must take copies and grant you entry.
So I traveled and got to Beitbridge and the drivers made their mandatory call “those who have issues with passports or want extra days come now lets discuss” (That’s a story for another day) But I didn’t go with them. I just went direct to the counter. Passport stamped no questions asked. Bon voyage!
This was a month ago and then today coincidentally while I was @VFSGlobal following up on my wife’s permit (which has been there almost a year – ANOTHER story for another day). I got an email with from @HomeAffairsSA stating that my permit WAS issued by them. They send you a letter which I carry with me all the time, and had to produce it on another trip, which showed the issue had not been resolved. So maybe it was just an anomaly but it can be costly and a huge inconvenience so verify your permits even if you used agents. The banks, well at least FNB, are also connected to @HomeAffairsSA so it will also pick up at the bank as well. I had never had a problem.
You can call 0800601190 to verify your permit pr you can email Elzabe.Fisher@dha.gov.za (the one on the site is wrong)
VFS Global – email@example.com
Update 17/08/2019 – In June I went to Zimbabwe and went through immigration with no issues which means the issue may have been rectified.