26/05/2017 13:27 SAST | Updated 26/05/2017 13:30 SAST

These Are Your Rights If You're In A Foreign Country And Are Being Threatened With Deportation

South Africans travelling aboard are not exempt from the legislations of the foreign country.

Gallo Images via Getty Images

South Africa woke up to the news that Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane was barred from entering Zambia on Thursday evening. Maimane was in the country to attend the treason trial of Hakainde Hichilema, the detained president of Zambia's largest opposition party.

Zambian police and immigration officials were reportedly already waiting for Maimane, who upon landing was ordered to take the next flight to South Africa.

While the reasons for his deportation are yet unknown, according to International Relations and Cooperation Department: "When travelling abroad the laws of the foreign country apply to everybody. South Africans are not exempt from the legislation of the host country and will not receive special treatment."

According to Zambia's Immigration and Deportation Act:

  • Zambia has the right to, without warrant stop, enter and search any aircraft, train, vehicle or vessel in Zambia;
  • An immigration officer may examine any person appearing before him ... and any person whom he reasonably suspects to be a prohibited immigrant for the purpose of ascertaining in relation to such person- his identity, the objects of his entry into Zambia, the nature of his claim to remain in Zambia and whether he is a prohibited immigrant.

But this does not mean as a prospective deportee you don't have rights. And although it differs from country to country, here are your immediate rights should you find yourself in a situation similar to Maimane's in a foreign country:

  1. You have the right to contact your nearest South African Representative office.
  2. You must be advised of your rights as soon as the deportation notice is made and this must be in a language you can understand. If not, you may have a right to an interpreter.
  3. You must deal with an immigration officer from that country, and you may be within your rights to have a lawyer present.

The Zambian High Commissioner to South Africa Emmanuel Mwaba is expected to be summoned by the international relations department to explain why Maimane was barred from entering the country.