An increasing number of South Africans have reported on various social media that some SA passport-holders due to travel on Ryanair flights to Ireland and the UK were being blocked and made to write an Afrikaans test in order to be allowed through immigration.
According to Ryanair this is being done due to the prevalence of fake South African passports, and the test was designed to see whether a passport-holder was really a South African despite the fact that only a small percentage of South Africans are proficient in the language.
At least one passenger reported on social media that she could not pass the test and she and her child were turned away from their flight.
According to News24, Dirco spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said the department was aware of the reports and was “concerned” and was consulting with its counterparts to deal with the issue.
A statement from Ryanair says “Due to the recent increase in passengers attempting to travel on fraudulent South African passports, our handling agents may request passengers travelling on a South African passport, and who are flagged during procedural security profiling, to complete a simple questionnaire, as an additional safety assessment to confirm whether they are correctly documented before travel. As language proficiency is the least intrusive further safety assessment method, this questionnaire is conducted through Afrikaans, one of South Africa’s most prevalent official languages.”
According to the Second Secretary for the Embassy of Ireland in South Africa, Paul Evans, Irish authorities did not require a language proficiency or general knowledge test, but must be able to satisfy the Immigration Officer at the Port of Entry that they have a valid reason for entering Ireland.
Documents that may be required include:
*Proof of accommodation
*Bank statements showing they have sufficient funds for the duration of the stay
*Passport must be valid for six months before the date of return, and must have two blank pages