A Chinese man was forced to take home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi to court after his department refused to allow the man back into SA ahead of the birth of his child.
The man and his South African husband regard Cape Town as their home, but they were in China when the country went into lockdown.
Their baby is expected to arrive in September in Bloemfontein, where the surrogate mother lives.
The man’s husband was given the all-clear by home affairs to return, while he was given a spousal visa.
The home affairs department did not give reasons why his application to enter SA was denied, despite his having been granted a visa 10 days before.
On July 23, the Western Cape High Court ordered that Motsoaledi’s ministry do “all things necessary” to allow the man to enter SA.
A clearance letter was issued and the couple arrived back in SA a few days later.
They are in quarantine in a hotel in Benoni, Gauteng.
The man, who cannot be named as surrogacy is confidential in SA, was shocked when he heard the home affairs department had not cleared his name for travel to SA two days before his scheduled flight.
“I was given to understand the fact that the embassy issued a relative’s visa to me a few days earlier meant the embassy and home affairs department had approved my request to travel to SA, and after the visa was issued, the rest would be procedural.
“I can’t bear the thought that I might miss the birth of my daughter.”
His husband said he was “absolutely devastated”.
“There are no words to describe having to tell your partner he has to stay behind alone, and miss the most amazing experience of our lives.”
The couple’s attorney, fertility law expert Andrew Martin, said the matter was completely unnecessary as his clients had been in constant communication with the relevant officials.
“It is also frustrating this was even necessary, given the nature of the request and in light of [Covid-19 international travel laws].”
He said the regulations stated that people who fell outside the categories of SA citizen and permanent resident could demonstrate exceptional circumstances for their request to enter the country.
“As such, there was adequate notice of ‘exceptional circumstances’, but they were never considered.
“Only after service of the application, the day before their flight, did we get any response.”
The department of home affairs failed to respond to a request for comment.