Strict legal interpretation splits an SA Israeli family

  • Schapiro
The six-year-old daughter of South African citizen Yaron Schapiro has been banned from re-entering South Africa for five years, resulting in her family being split between this country and Israel.
by MICHAEL BELLING | Feb 03, 2016

PHOTOGRAPH SUPPLIED

 

Pictured: Noa Schapiro, who has returned to Israel with her mother after being banned from South Africa for five years as “undesirable” and her sister Maya, who has remained with her father in South Africa.

Her parents and her two older sisters - Yaron, his wife Jessica and daughters Sophie (now 13) and Maya (now 10) - moved to Israel in 2006.

Schapiro, who has a business in South Africa, went to Israel to help care for his mother, who was in failing health.

Noa Schapiro was born in Israel on January 28, 2010, but her birth was not registered with the South African embassy in Tel Aviv, as Schapiro thought she was automatically a citizen of this country by virtue of his citizenship.

The family returned to South Africa in 2015. Sophie and Maya hold dual South African and Israeli citizenship. Like them, Noa travelled using an Israeli passport and her parents believed the same applied to her.

On their return, Schapiro devoted himself to his business in Cape Town, which he never gave up, and he and Jessica found a new home for the family, renewed their driving licences and registered the two older children at school and Noa in a nursery school.

Maya requires special schooling as she is deaf and knows sign language only in Hebrew.

Schapiro said he had enquired about Noa’s status at the South African embassy in Israel and was told it could be sorted out in South Africa.

In December the family went to Mauritius on holiday but was told that Noa had overstayed her visa and would have to leave the country.

Schapiro told the SA Jewish Report that Noa had been “generously handed” the status of undesirable and could not return to South Arica for five years. As a result, Jessica and Noa have gone back to Israel, while Yaron and the other two girls are in Cape Town with their father.

“How do you disconnect a five-year-old girl from her parent and siblings, all of whom carry a South African identity document?” Schapiro asked.

“I don’t know how long the separation will last.”

The Department of Home Affairs in South Africa has applied a strict interpretation of a law on birth registration that took effect in 2014, providing that the birth of a South African child had to be registered within 30 days, even though in this case it meant splitting the family.

“I believe I am a good, law-abiding South African,” Schapiro said. I run an honest company. But does it help if you do all the right things in South Africa?”

He said the Home Affairs decision affected him on several levels – beyond just his immediate family.

He employs 60 people in his business, which is suffering.

“The financial ramifications are not only for me. I had to cancel four business trips as a result of this.”

He is looking to obtain assistance to rectify the matter at Home Affairs from anyone who might have contacts in the department and be able to approach someone senior there to help resolve the issue – whether on the level of a deputy minister or a senior departmental official.

He is also working with a lawyer and publicising the matter on social media.

Although Schapiro has not yet had any response from Home Affairs, he believes from what he has heard that the matter can be resolved and that he will have to go through the embassy in Israel to do so, which could take several months.

He hopes, however, that he will be able to reunite all the members of his split family before then 

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