Press Releases

Press Releases

Embassy reaches out to the community on Nelson Mandela Day 2018

In celebration of International Nelson Mandela Day, the Mission engaged in two outreach activities on 18 July involving two local associations.

On the morning of the 18th, six volunteers from the Mission joined members of the Ubuntu Leadership Academy run by IPAV (Father Antonio Vieira Institute) in an initiative launched by the latter entitled “Mandela Bridges”.  The Embassy volunteers were split into two groups that distributed postcards with the message “Hoje é Dia de Construir Pontes” (Today is a Day to Build Bridges) to commuters using Lisbon’s Entrecampos and Sete Rios Railway Stations.  The aim was to raise awareness through the distribution of postcards that inspire for bridge building around the memory of Nelson Mandela.  Following the activity, time was also spent with members of the Ubuntu Leadership Academy, who have Nelson Mandela as one of their role models, recalling his life and message. 

In the afternoon, the Embassy staff travelled to the headquarters of the Batoto Yetu Cultural and Youth Association in Caxias to participate with a group of youths in producing a hand-painting dedicated to Nelson Mandela.  Batoto Yetu is a youth and cultural association that works with children and young people who are interested in African culture. The association’s philosophy is based on the belief that, regardless of each person’s socioeconomic conditions, learning about and valuing their cultural roots is an essential factor to consolidate their self-esteem and sense of belonging!

The programme started with a short talk on the life of Nelson Mandela provided by Mr Reed Mkhohliso and Ms Maria da Luz Marques.  The hand painting organized by Batoto Yetu, which involved about 15 youths and 5 coordinators at the Association, was followed by an afternoon snack to which the staff contributed with sandwiches and fruit juices.  The staff also spent time interacting with the youths.

Launch of the Travel Smart Campaign


Keynote Address on the occasion of the launch of the Travel Smart Campaign by Deputy Minister Reginah Mhaule, 03 July 2018

Programme Director

Senior Officials and DIRCO Staff

Government Representatives

Members of the Media

Ladies and Gentlemen

I am pleased to deliver this keynote address during this exceptional occasion of the “Travel Smart With DIRCO Campaign” of the Consular Services Launch.  It is indeed heartening to be part of the launch of this campaign which will go a long way in improving the general understanding of the Consular Services we provide to our own populace here at home and abroad.  The thematic focus which is “Travel Smart: How DIRCO Consular Services can assist you when travelling abroad” is therefore fitting considering our commitment to the provision of services with excellence.

I cannot miss this opportunity and as the Deputy Minister indicated during her opening, we have just arrived from the 31st African Union Summit that was held in Nouakchott, Mauritania. We all must be proud that South Africa has joined almost 50 other African states in signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) which contribute towards a prosperous continent aspired by our people.  

We have gathered here to launch an initiative which further express the values of Tata Madiba’ s leadership of putting our people first and as such renewing our commitment to Batho Pele principles. I must therefore state from the onset that this event takes place in the beginning of the significant month of July, which is the birth month of our founding father of our democracy former President Nelson Mandela.

As you are aware we will continue to celebrate his centenary through-out as directed by the decision by our Government to formerly commemorate Madiba’s legacy in 2018. In essence, former President Mandela would have turned 100 years this year and to be precise in fifteen days we will commemorate his birthday on 18 July and also observe Nelson Mandela International Day, which calls on all of us to dedicate 67 minutes and demonstrate our commitment to social change.

In similar vein, this year also marks the centenary of another icon of the African liberation struggle, Mama Albertina Sisulu. Thus South Africa and the African continent can indeed be proud of the selfless service rendered by these Mama Sisulu and Tata Madiba to better the lives of all our people.  

We must draw inspiration from his words delivered as part of the Freedom Day celebrations speech in 1999 when he said:-

“We must improve service delivery to the people. We must improve our attitudes towards citizens, as public servants”.

Ladies and gentlemen

It is in this context that I am excited to preside over the launch of this Consular Services campaign by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). This launch will be followed by the planned “travel smart” Provincial Roadshows which we will undertake during the course of the year to further enhance public comprehension of what DIRCO can offer in this regard.

We envisage to complete these planned “travel smart” roadshows to all provinces within the 2018/19 financial year. I must underscore that these Provincial Roadshows are not lined-up in any order of priority as we believe for this campaign to be successful every sphere of society is equally important.

It is a true statement that most South Africans face the reality of being destitute in foreign countries and under these circumstances they seek our assistance without prior knowledge of what services we mandated to provide. This situation must be changed and I believe that the Consular Service campaign we are launching today will enable us to do so.


Our Department, DIRCO, through the Chief Directorate: Consular Services is mandated with rendering assistance and support to the public, working closely in collaboration with our Diplomatic and Consular representatives abroad. As such the colleagues responsible in carrying out this mandate on daily bases are in the cold face of service delivery like any other line function department.

The only difference between DIRCO and other departments is that we function largely in the purview of foreign relations however our works is aimed at improving the living conditions of South Africans. I emphasise this point because the current uncertain and volatile security climate in which the world requires us to respond favourably to the needs while adhering to our international obligations.

Ladies and Gentlemen

In this regard we must render Consular services in accordance with Articles 5, 36 and 37 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR) of 1963 and guided by our own legislative prescripts. The VCCR is therefore the first and to date the most important document in the consular field and provides the judicial basis and general framework for provision of consular services by member States.

It is worth noting that since the VCCR came into effect in 1963, Consular Services across the globe had to adapt and innovate, develop new practices and responses to meet contemporary challenges of the “global citizen”. As such, the Global Consular Forum (GCF) was established for Member Countries to meet annually in order to collaborate, network, share ideas and also provide consular updates.  Let me mention that as of January 2018 South Africa has been appointed as a Steering Committee member of the GCF.

Consular Diplomacy today requires an ongoing sharing of ideas, best practices and innovations, collaboration in areas such as crisis response, training and possibly some joint activities and research to advance the legal and policy framework that supports consular relations

Programme Director,

While our consular officials are required to treat and provide quality assistance whenever a crises or need, while working under constrained environment since the austerity measures have been put on place.

We continue, to work with our own sister departments like Home Affairs, South African Police service and Social Services to help us in their areas of expertise.

Furthermore, the Viena Convention grants our officials the right to access the citizens in distress, thus it is advisable for our people travelling abroad to make necessary arrangements with the department so that they can be of necessary assistance. Most importantly, is to urge our citizens to make necessary financial provisions for any eventuality that may occur, that is get in place the necessary travel insurance.

We urge our travelling agencies to assist us in this regard as they are the most important stakeholder in this regard.

Ladies and gentlemen

A week ago, we had to deal with the arrest of 51 of our citizens for violation of the visa laws in China. As I am addressing you, 49 of the 51 have returned home safely and the remaining two (2) we have been informed by our mission that they remain in custody as they served as recruiters.

We are of the opinion that this situation could have been avoided had necessary information been readily available for our people. As such, we urge people when travelling to do due diligence on the country they are visiting.

Before boarding an aeroplane, South Africans should take time to learn about the financial, political, cultural and economic environment of their intended destination. We must of course encourage our people to learn at least a few key phrases in the host country's language. Even a modest command of the local language will go a long way. When travelling abroad the laws of the receiving country applies to everybody and South Africans must understand that they will not receive special treatment.

South Africans are encouraged to have the contact details of the nearest South African Representative office and to carry contact details of their next of kin at all times.

Programme Director,

We will be embarking on an elaborate Travel Safe campaign aimed at mitigating some of the past experiences we mentioned and are well aware of. We aim to extend this campaign in different mediums both traditional and non-traditional, so we can reach as many of our people as possible.

It is thus important, that those planning to travel familiarise themselves with the information that is readily available on the DIRCO website, to read more on what is needed when travelling and also on where the nearest South African Representative office is based at your intended destination.

Thank you.


OR Tambo Building

460 Soutpansberg Road





SA celebrates centenary of Albertina Sisulu

Albertina Sisulu was a political activist and nurse and one of the most important leaders of anti-Apartheid resistance in South Africa. She is often referred to as the `Mother of the Nation’. She acted on her ideal of human rights throughout her life, assisted by her husband and fellow activist, the late Walter Sisulu (1912-2003).  It was with Walter that she attended the first conference of the ANC Youth League where Albertina Sisulu was the only women present. In 1948 she joined the ANC Women’s League and in the 1950s she began to assume a leadership role – both in the ANC and in the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW).  She was one of the organizers of the historic anti-pass Women’s March in 1956 and opposed inferior `Bantu’ education. Her home in Orlando West in Soweto was used as a classroom for alternative education until a law was passed against it.  Both Albertina and her husband were jailed several times for their political activities.  Albertina Sisulu died on 3 June 2011. 

To learn more about Albertina Sisulu, please click here.

2018 YOUTH MONTH - "Live the legacy: towards a socio-economically empowered youth”.

Every year on 16 June South Africa commemorates the 1976 Soweto uprising to pay tribute to learners who stood up against the apartheid government. They stood together and laid down their lives fighting for freedom and the right to equal education.

This year’s Youth Month takes place within the same year that South Africa marks the 100 years (Centenary) for both Nelson Mandela and Albertina Sisulu.

In South Africa we not only commemorate Youth Day but dedicate the entire month of June to the youth. Government and its agencies such as the National Youth Development Agency will over the month host a number of engagements including youth expos, dialogues and youth entrepreneur hubs to showcase opportunities available to young people.

The Youth Month comes less than three months since President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Youth Employment Service initiative that aims to prepare young people for work through training and matching programmes. It is a business-led initiative in partnership with government, labour and civil society and will offer one million young South Africans paid work experience over the next three years. This year’s theme is Live the legacy: Towards a socio-economically empowered youth”.




55th Africa Day celebrations in Lisbon

The 55th Africa Day celebrations took place in Lisbon on 10 May 2018 hosted by the 16 African Ambassadors accredited to Portugal. The main speaker was the Director-General of the Portuguese Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Pedro Sanchez da Costa Pereira with other speakers including the President of PADEMA, Ms Luzia Moniz representing the Portuguese African Diaspora as well as the new Dean of the African Group of Ambassadors, HE Fatiha Selmane from Algeria. The event this year took place in the form of a well-attended luncheon, with over 200 selected guests that attended and enjoyed cuisine form across Africa prepared by the various Embassies. The event also had the beat of Africa with musical performances from Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea and Mozambique.

Africa Day is traditionally celebrated on 25 May, marking the historic foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on this date in 1963, now the African Union which brought the Continent together signifying its identity and unity. The theme for 2018 was set as “Winning the fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation” with Africa Day presenting a unique opportunity to reflect on progress towards the “AFRICA we want – Agenda 2063”, while celebrating the milestones along the way!