Beware airport visa scam

EDITOR - I am writing to express my anger and sorrow about a situation which developed at the airport recently as I tried to leave Zimbabwe. I wish to alert others, so that hopefully such an upsetting thing does not happen to anyone else.

It would also be interesting to know whether anyone else has had the same experience as this could be a well-practised scam.

When I entered Zimbabwe recently, I showed my passport and ticket to the immigration official at the desk. The date of my return was on the ticket and obviously I assumed the visa he issued covered me until that date of departure. But it is naïve to believe or trust anything or anyone nowadays in Zimbabwe.

When checking in on departure day I was questioned about having stayed longer than my visa and a senior immigration official was called to help. I had not realised anything was wrong so this was a frightening development. My explanation was dismissed and I was treated in a rude, and belligerent manner and indeed felt ill with the implications of the threats being issued.

The official suggested a fine of $100 to allow me to leave and said if I could not or would not pay, my luggage would be off loaded and a court case would follow. He was threatening to detain me there and then, so a family member paid the sum and I was allowed to leave.

After reflection, although I made an error, it seems fairly obvious that in Zimbabwe now there is no redress anywhere and no person or authority to turn to at such a time. Elsewhere, the problem would probably have been resolved kindly and helpfully bearing in mind that I am elderly and have obvious disabilities. I wonder if a man would have suffered such treatment?

It seems that issuing visas for less than the planned stay may well be a good earner for corrupt and anarchic officials. Be sure to check and not assume as I did!


Post published in: Letters to the Editor

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