An alleged fraudster, who attempted to solicit fines from minors at OR Tambo International Airport claiming that they had the incorrect documents to travel according to the newly implemented Immigration Act, has been suspended following a rapid response by The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA).
The airport official was said to have approached a group of schoolgirls travelling on a student exchange after they had successfully checked-in and presented all documentation to the airline check-in staff.
The group of schoolgirls were allegedly forced to accompany the official to an “interview” room and were denied access to a female official leaving them traumatised and distressed.
According to the victims, the official claimed that they did not have the correct paperwork to travel and demanded a R500 “fine” be paid before being allowed to depart South Africa. This is despite their documents having been vetted previously by their travel agent and accepted by the airline staff upon check-in as valid.
Upon news reaching their travel agent, the matter was escalated to ASATA, which in turn ensured it was dealt with speedily through the correct channels.
“It is so important that travellers fully understand what their rights are and that this kind of behaviour from an official is unacceptable,” says Otto De Vries, chief executive officer of ASATA.
“We would urge members of the public to inform themselves about the full requirements of the Immigration legislation, consult with their ASATA travel agent to ensure they comply, and refer any similar incidents to the Association so that these may be dealt with swiftly and effectively.”
“We simply cannot have situations where the officials in whom we place our trust undermine the process and cause our travellers undue distress,” concludes Mr Otto.