Pretoria – The front page story in The Times of Monday, 13 July 2015, was at best shoddy journalism. This matter is of too much importance to be used to promote arguments of big business. To say a presentation made this year is a reason for new visa regulations is beyond obtuse. The Times was among media houses that reported extensively on child abduction numbers, in 2013.

Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni’s comments were made in a joint-sitting of Portfolio Committees on Home Affairs and Tourismand he shared the number of reports circulating in the public space. At no point did Mr Apleni state that the new regulations were based on those numbers.

The contested numbers still exist in the public platforms, with a variety of research papers being contested and debated. Our role as the Department of Home Affairs is to minimize the vulnerability of children as per directive of the Children’s Act. We will not feature in perpetual contestations about the numbers, as we have repeatedly stated “One child is one child too many.”

To be clear, the Department of Home Affairs had never said the regulations were a response to those numbers. The regulations are in line with two pieces of legislation – the Children’s Act of 2005 and the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2013.

Therefore, the Department has no intention or legitimate ground to put a “spin” on immigration law and regulations, as alleged. Our legislative mandate is to provide for the regulation of admission of persons to, their residence in, and their departure from the Republic.

Before 2013, the Children’s Act stated that a parent or other person acting as a guardian should consent to the child’s departure or removal from the Republic and consent to the child’s application for a passport. The amended law and regulations are there to fulfil these prescripts, with no need for “gross exaggeration” or even spin of any sort.

The Department of Home Affairs knows of, and has reported on abuse of the immigration system, including human trafficking, persons who go in and out of the country under false pretences and those who overstay. It was prudent to take preventative steps, better to minimize cost and remedies.

A contest over reported numbers is no reason enough to suggest child abduction is not a problem. We reiterate that “One child abducted, is one too many.”

For media enquiries kindly contact Mayihlome Tshwete on 072 869 2477