Imagine a world where the Constitution of a country is one of the most progressive in the world. Imagine a country where the discrimination, racism and the persecution of ethnic minority groups used to be part of the breakfast menu served by loving parents to their impressionable children. Imagine a country where it was illegal to cross the skin colour divide. Imagine a country that was shun by almost all other countries because of its laws propagating racism, discrimination and intolerance. Imagine that country more than two decades ago, when Apartheid was abandoned, laws changed, and the co-existence of all its peoples encouraged. No more hate, no more violence, no more discrimination, no more racism.
Since that big day, when Nelson Mandela was released from prison, so many things changed. Perhaps not all overnight, but the country saw its first open elections, Madiba started his new life as the President of a country, that was just waiting for direction to make things better, to prevent the same racism, discrimination, corruption and persecution from happening again. That country was South Africa. That country is South Africa, but it seems the discrimination, the racism, the corruption and a few additional characteristics of individuals and groups have - and still are - simply changed abled bodies. From previously disadvantaged people to people now in authoritive positions, and from people with the safety of a pure-white government behind them to being victims of intimidation, racial discrimination and being blamed for everything that could go wrong.
Now imagine a South African family, living and working in Europe, a family depending on the travel documents their Government has to issue, a family relying solely on the single father of three children, who has to travel throughout Europe and the rest of the world to do his job and care for his family.
Imagine an ordeal that started in July 2017, when the family had to renew their passports. The first point of contact for any expatriate is always the embassy or consulate of his citizenship in the country he is living in. The renewal process, according to the South African Embassy in Bern, Switzerland would take approximately 3 months. If the applicant is lucky, he would have the passports within 6 months. The first 3 months came and went. The Embassy Switchboard refused to transfer any calls to a person responsible for the passport processing. The father had to send an email. After 7 emails without receiving a response, and only after suggesting the complaint would be handled by the family's legal team, did a response come. In an email from a contact person in Tswane, South Africa, only one sentence - there was no receipt of the applications. Period. All in CAPITALS. Her name was Ms. Constance Ndebele from the Department of Home Affairs. The family had to reapply.
The second round of applications was concluded at the End of April 2018 - 10 months after the initial applications. No response, no confirmation, absolutely nothing. At the end of September 2018, the father contacted the Embassy again, following up with additional steps that would be taken, if the passports did not arrive soon. The financial implications of not being able to travel for work, would be catastrophic. Only after a series of emails and phone calls was the father informed by the same Ms Ndebele, that the passports were being validated for 'citizenship'. No further information.
Much happened in between that email and the absolutely unprofessional and highly abrasive attitude of an employee at the Department of Home Affairs in Tswane. The father enquired about the status of the passports, to which he received a response he had thought would never happen. In an email to the South African Embassy in Bern, the father writes the following:
"...Just as a note to you, I spoke to someone at DHA in Tswane on Monday and was told the following:
1. I should NEVER contact the office directly, as the staff there do not "deal with problems of South Africans who had turned their backs on the country". That is why SA Consulates are there.
2. When I then remarked on this statement that I'd like to speak to a manager - because the response was offensive - the answer was "...we no longer live in a country where white Afrikaners determine how people are to do their jobs..." and "...if you didn't want to live here, you should not have our passport..." and then disconnected me. All other calls were simply ignored/disconnected...."
Since then the father has contacted the Department of Home Affairs again, the Minister of that Department (who seems to be having his own corruption charges to defend) and the Acting Director of the Department. No response, other than "...the documents have been dispatched..."
Imagine a country where this ordeal - which still is not over, is still ongoing, still has not delivered the passports - is not an isolated case. Imagine a country, where such behaviour is tolerated, even encouraged, by those in authority. Imagine the tragic look on Nelson Mandela's face, if he were to be told that his people were still living in Apartheid.
A survey about how the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa is (mis)treating the citizens of South African, the peoples of Madiba, will be launched at the end of November 2018. To participate in the survey, visit Global Surveys
****This story will be updated regularly. It is not finished yet.****