Ghanaian travel blogger, Akessa Sanza, was reportedly forced to pay nearly $100 (R1286.35) to an immigration official at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, to gain entry into SA last month.
In a blog post Sanza revealed the misconduct that took place at the airport.
Sanza was travelling from Ghana through Kenya to South Africa in order to gather information for a travel guide he is putting together.
On arrival Sanza was met by one of the many immigration officers, who asked him how much he has on him for his stay in South Africa. The officer continued to quiz him about his stay, asking about his accommodation arrangements and whether he had already paid for his hotel. When Sanza responded that he had not, the officer told him that he has the right to deny him access into the country. Soon after this, Sanza was asked to pay the official nearly $100.
Sanza wrote in his post that if he was denied access into South Africa, the denial usually results in a ban for a specified period. “With fears all over me, I quickly handed him the money as requested.”
Sanza was then escorted to an office at the airport where the officer continued to press him, and demand more money.
By the end of the ordeal officials had extorted almost US $100.00 from Sanza.
Tourism Update contacted the Department of Home Affairs regarding the matter.
Thabo Makgola, the spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said Sanza has been advised to present his allegations to management for further investigation.
“Immigration officials have a right to ensure that every visitor complies with the law by confirming their accommodation itinerary to ensure that it commensurate with the conditions of their visa and, if in doubt, contact the specific accommodation service provider listed for verification purposes,” said Makgola.
“It is our duty to ensure that any visitor entering South Africa does not ultimately become a burden to the state.”
Sanza told Tourism Update that he was contacted by OR Tambo and Home Affairs immediately after his post was published in May. He was told that they were investigating the matter. However, Sanza has yet to hear any updates regarding the matter. Sanza said that they seemed to be investigating his visit, rather than investigating the concerns he raised.
“After several attempts to get the attention of authorities to get the corrupt immigration officers in line, no stringent action has been taken,” said Sanza. “All what I am told is that investigations are ongoing. I am charging leadership at the airport to redeem itself by allowing independent investigations of the extortion allegations I have made.”
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