South African immigration officials have banned an elderly British couple from entering the country for five years, after it was found that their passports had don’t been stamped upon their last exit from the country.
Joan and Alexander Klein from London were arriving in the country through the Port of Cape Town, on a Crystal Cruise from Port Louis, Mauritius to the Mother City. They were booked on a flight from Cape Town back to London, but the immigration officer at the port declared them “Undesirable Persons” under South Africa’s immigration laws.
The bureaucratic nightmare centres around their previous visit to the country in December, 2014, when they cruised from Cape Town to Singapore. South African immigration officials had not put an exit stamp in their passports and so, according to the system, they have been illegally residing in the country for 649 days.
The couple tried to protest the ban, pointing out the various entry and exit stamps from other countries during the time they are accused of residing in the country, but the immigration official refused to accept that the mistake was in fact on the government’s part.
The couple’s daughter, Michelle Humphreys took to social media, calling the entire situation a bureaucratic nightmare brought about by the South African immigration service.
“This is a preposterous suggestion for immigration to make and it has caused them unnecessary distress when they are far away from their family and friends in a foreign country, on what is supposed to be a trip of a lifetime,” she said, adding that her parents, 88 and 93-years-old would have been left stranded by the SA government if it weren’t for the cruise line.
“The staff on their cruise have been working tirelessly with the immigration authorities in Cape Town to overturn the ban but so far they have refused to see sense and are insisting my parents appeal the ban which could take 6-12 months,” she said.
Ultimately, Crystal Cruises allowed the couple to remain on-board and disembark in Namibia, from which they flew home to London via Amsterdam.
Even if the ban is overturned, its unlikely that these formerly loyal South African cruise tourists, bringing foreign exchange into the country and supporting the local tourism industry, will ever return after such treatment.
“The South African immigration authorities in Cape Town have now made two gross mistakes by firstly not exit stamping my parents passports back in 2014 and now issuing them with a ban for the very same thing,” said their daughter.