Ryanair under fire for asking South Africans to prove nationality with Afrikaans test

Ryanair is requiring South African passengers to prove their nationality before travelling by completing a test in Afrikaans, a language used by 12% of the population that has long been associated with the apartheid and the white minority.

Some of the questions include naming the highest mountain in South Africa, its largest city and one national holiday.

“I was able to answer the questions,” said Novazi, who learnt Afrikaans in school but is not a native speaker of the language. She was then allowed to board the plane. Novazi wrote to South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation on June 1st but has not received a response.

“It’s very discriminatory to a whole host of South Africans who don’t speak Afrikaans,” Siphiwe Gwala told Reuters.

“They’re using this (test) in a manner that is utterly absurd,” Conrad Steenkamp, the chief executive officer of the Afrikaans Language Council, said.

Europe’s largest airline by passenger numbers, which does not operate flights to and from South Africa, said it required any UK-bound passengers from the country to fill in the “simple questionnaire” due to what it described as a high prevalence of fraudulent South African passports.

“In order to minimize the risk of fake passport usage, Ryanair requires passengers on a South African passport to fill out a simple questionnaire in the Afrikaans language,” reads the statement provided to CNN.

“If they are unable to complete this questionnaire, they will be refused travel and issued with a full refund instead. Airlines operating to the UK face Home Office fines of £2,000 (around $2,515) per passenger for anyone who travel illegally to the UK on a fraudulent passport/visa.”

The UK High Commission in South Africa has also responded, pointing out that the questionnaire is “not a UK Government requirement.”

Afrikaans is the third most spoken language in South Africa after Zulu and Xhosa.




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