Anger as Ryanair forces South African passport holders to fill in quiz in Afrikaans to test validity

South African travellers have responded with anger after airline Ryanair created a test in Afrikaans in a bid to check passport validity.

The airline has asked passengers with South African passports a series of questions in the Afrikaans language – spoken by fewer than one in ten South Africans – apparently to ensure their nationality is valid. The airline said the practice had been brought in for those travelling to the UK in response to an increase in the number of fraudulent South African passports in circulation.

The “test”, which asks questions about South Africa and its culture, such as the name of the capital and its currency, is not a UK Border requirement.

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Perhaps ironically, one of the questions is “name three of South Africa's official languages”.

Ryanair has introduced a questionnaire in Afrikaans for South African passport holders.

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One traveller, Zinhle Novazi, director of entrepreneur charity the Heavy Chef Foundation, said she had been asked to take the test when flying from Ibiza to London.

She wrote on Twitter: “I took a mini vacay to Portugal and Ibiza. I was flying Ryanair from Ibiza to London, when I was requested by Ryanair to fill in a questionnaire in Afrikaans to verify that I am a South African national.”

Another South African, Louise Fenner, responded: “Do they [know] most English-speaking South Africans can barely speak Afrikaans? I am not too bad, but my husband would never manage these questions.”

Ryanair said those unable to complete the questionnaire would be refused travel.

"Due to the high prevalence of fraudulent South African passports, we require passengers travelling to the UK to fill out a simple questionnaire issued in Afrikaans," Ryanair said in a statement.

The airline continued: "If they are unable to complete this questionnaire, they will be refused travel and issued with a full refund.”

South Africa has 11 official languages: Zulu, isiXhosa, Afrikaans, Sepedi, Setswana, English, Sesotho, Xitsonga, Siswati, Tshivenda and Ndebele.

Many black South Africans are reluctant to use Afrikaans, which is derived from Dutch and has become known as the “colonial” language of White Afrikaaners. University Stellenbosch came under fire in 2015 for insisting on using the language in lectures and, in 2021, changed its policy to a multilingual language policy, including Afrikaans, English and isiXhosa.

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