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18 Feb 2009 16:45
Government has tightened up security around the production of South African passports, government spokesperson Themba Maseko said on Wednesday.
Briefing journalists at Parliament in Cape Town following Cabinet’s fortnightly meeting, he described the British government’s recent decision to impose visa requirements on South Africans visiting the UK as “unfortunate”.
South Africa had been working closely with British authorities on the security problems before the visa requirement was announced.
“They had sent a number of their teams to come and look at our processes and systems, and also to recommend additional measures that needed to be put in place.
“Unfortunately, the time frames given to address many of the challenges that were identified were just not sufficient.
“They had wanted these measures to be put in place by December, [but] a lot of the stuff that was put in place needed to be implemented in a time frame that goes beyond December.
“So we consider this decision to be unfortunate, but, again, it’s a sovereign decision by a sovereign state, and we respect it.”
Maseko said government’s focus at the moment was “to make sure we do everything that is necessary to improve the security measures around the production of our passports”.
Responding to a question on whether the UK would reconsider the visa requirement, he indicated this might be possible.
“We are convinced that the turnaround strategy [at Home Affairs], when it is fully implemented, all of these problems identified will have been addressed.
“We are in regular contact with the British government, and they have made it very clear that if and when those challenges are addressed, they may be able to review their position in this regard.
“I am not aware of any specific time frames, but we are in regular contact with the British government at ... ministerial level to make sure we address their concerns,” he said.—Sapa
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