(Codewit.com)Against the belief in some quarters, the repatriation fee charged visa applicants by the South African government is not designed to discourage Nigerians from visiting the country.
This was revealed by the countryâ€™s High Commissioner to Nigeria, JKN Mamabolo, while fielding questions from journalists at a press conference held recently at the Southern Sun Ikoyi Hotel, Lagos.
The envoy explained that the fee was put in place to remove the unnecessary burden of paying the transportation fee of an illegal entrant to his point of departure by the South African government.
â€œ If you come to the country illegally you must use your money to transport yourself back because in the first instance you brought yourself in illegally and that is why we charge repatriation fee. Even for the repatriation fee which we collect there are some people who do not come back to collect it,â€ he added.
The press conference which was to express appreciation to some selected members of the Nigerian media for their impressive coverage of South Africa and the 2010 World Cup tourney which the country hosted was anchored by TopComm headed by Tope Ogbeni Awe.
The envoy also explained that even as matters were a lot of people who had paid the repatriation fee and had returned to Nigeria without being repatriated had not come to collect the money hence millions of naira accruing from this were still with the South African government.
â€œLot of people do not come back for their money even after returning to Nigeria. At the end of the day there are millions of naira that are left in our coffers as they do not come back to collect it. That shows that the repatriation fee does not stop some people as some can even go . It is meant for those elements that are illegal,â€ he stated further.
He however regretted that the action was affecting genuine and well meaning Nigerians.
According to Mamabolo, South Africa values and cherishes Nigerians especially as Nigeria is a large market which is being tapped by his country in terms of tourism and other businesses but the measures must be put in place.
His words: â€œUnfortunately it has affected well intended Nigerians. The truth of the matter is that we want to support the programmes of the South African Tourism, South African Airways and others to bring in many Nigerians and others as possible. However, the reality we still face is that we still have the not so good and well intended Nigerians whom we must stop at all cost not only for the benefits of the people in South Africa but those of Nigerians as well.â€
The South African High Commissioner however ruled out increasing the visa application points in Nigeria for now explaining that it was efficiency and quality but not quantity that his country was bent on promoting.
Currently, the country has two visa application points in Nigeria: Lagos and Abuja.
Also at the press conference were Aaron Munetesi, South African Airways Head of Africa and Phumi Dhlomo, South African Tourism Regional Director for Africa and Domestic Markets.