By SA News
With 22 days till the kick off of the FIFA World Cup, South Africa was on track to issue free visas to soccer fans and process the thousands of visitors expected in the country next month.
Addressing the Joint Committees on the State of Readiness for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said FIFA employees were being awarded visas and that as at Sunday the department had issued 3 500 work permits.
She said free event visas would be awarded to those with World Cup tickets, while dedicated lanes would be set aside for those coming to the tournament. Priority treatment would also be given to FIFA delegations and teams.
Specific branded lanes were in the process of being set up at King Shaka in Durban, Cape Town International Airport and at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
The department was also training volunteers to work at airports in assisting arriving visitors.
While a new movement control technology system which was launched at OR Tambo International was being rolled out across the country, the department had also placed airline liaison officers at various airports for clearing passengers and would enable police to screen visitors before they arrived.
“It means the bulk of the passengers we would know that they aren’t high risk by the time they arrive at our airports and therefore would be cleared much faster,” said Dlamini-Zuma, who added that the system was piloted, together with Egypt, at last year’s Confederations Cup.
International airports in countries including Kenya, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, Germany, India and Dubai had been identified as hubs where the majority of passengers would be passing through on their way to the World Cup.
Discussions had been concluded with Kenya, Nigeria, the Netherlands, India, Hong Kong, Germany and the UK and negotiations were under way with Dubai, she said.
Dlamini-Zuma said the department was working with South African Airways (SAA) to screen passengers before they came to South Africa, but added that this process had been delayed by the volcanic ash cloud over Europe in recent weeks.
She said this would give SAA an advantage in that it would be quicker to clear immigration if you were flying the national airline.
At land border points, joint clearances were being set up, so that those passing through border checkpoints will only have to wait in a single queue, rather than going through one queue on either side of the border, she said.
She said one such point had already been set up at the Lebombo border post at the Mozambique-South Africa.
Other co-location points would be set up at the Zimbabwe border at Beit Bridge, Maseru and Ficksburg at the Lesotho border, Oshoek at the Swaziland border and at Kopfontein at the Botswana border.
The department was also looking at introducing a transit visa for those that resided in neighbouring countries that passed through South Africa.