The parents of ten young artists from Inanda north of Durban have made a last minute appeal to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the South African government to step in and allow them to attend the World Performing Arts Championships in Los Angeles next week.
This occurs after the ten members of the Go! The Durban Musical Theater Academy qualified to compete in the World Championships but were denied VISA to enter the United States. A total of seventeen members of the South African squad of fifty-six were denied visas.
In an open letter to the president, the parents claim that VISA applications were denied due to their lower socio-economic background.
Academy project manager Des Govender said: “We are devastated. These children nurture the hope not only of their own dreams, but also of their families, of their community where they come from, of the whole city of Durban. So it’s incredibly devastating to have such a hope and dream and be told that unfortunately you can’t even leave your own country to represent and fly the flag.
Meanwhile, US Embassy spokesman David Feldmann said all VISA applications are confidential and the reason for the decision is not disclosed. He adds that these decisions are reviewed at a higher level at the embassy and even in Washington.
“So when a South African or an Indian, or a person from China or even the UK or France applies for a VISA or seeks to enter the United States, there is a presumption of intent to immigrate . The US consular officer at the VISA counter or at the airport at the port of entry is required to assume that this person intends to immigrate to the United States. It is up to that individual and not the institution they are affiliated with to overcome this presumption of immigration intent,” Feldmann explained.