"One of my biggest clients, Michael Olusegun Osatuyi decided to spend a weekend break during the Easter period in South Africa to get away from the stress of his job for a while.
"He purchased a South African Airways Business Class ticket worth over N500,000 for this purpose and proceeded to set out on Thursday, April 17th 2014. As with all trips abroad he had previously made, he made a hotel reservation via booking.com. When he arrived the Lagos airport, he was informed he could not board the flight unless the reservation had been paid for. This was promptly done on the hotel website, Crowne Plaza Rosebank Johannesburg and the card was pre-authorised after which he was allowed to board the flight.
The first question is: when citizens of other countries travel to South Africa, are they forced to pay for their stay before they arrive the hotel premises? Are they denied boarding even when they have confirmed reservations booked with their debit/credit card details? In spite of this, Mr. Osatuyi paid and boarded.
When he arrived Johannesburg at 5.00am South African time on Friday, the 18th, the immigration officer called the hotel and reached a member of staff that saw the cancelled booking.com reservation and said the reservation had not been paid for.
My client promptly called me and I in turn called Crowne Plaza and spoke to a professional gentleman called Mondli who sent me the proof of payment and a copy of the reservation. I sent them to Mr. Osatuyi, who by this time had his phones seized from him by the immigration officials and locked up in a common cell with the key taken away like a criminal!!!
When I could no longer reach Mr. Osatuyi, I called various numbers of the South African immigration until I reached the woman in charge of the case. To say she was hostile would be an understatement. She refused to give her name but she picked up the phone number +27115718734 four times between the hours of 7:14 and 8:20 South African time so she can easily be traced. I explained that the hotel employee she spoke to had referred to the booking.com reservation and that she should call the hotel again to confirm that there was indeed proof of payment. She insisted that she can only call any hotel once after which I asked the Hotel Manager to call her which he did. He later informed me that she was extremely hostile and said she had taken a decision that could not be reversed and that Mr. Osatuyi had been assigned to leave with the next flight back to Lagos at 2:00pm.
Mr. Osatuyi was denied access to his phones, a lawyer and consular staff throughout his stay in that cell. He had a business class ticket but was denied access to the business lounge at the airport until he boarded the flight.
This situation, in my opinion is completely unacceptable! Even in more advanced countries like the United States and United Kingdom, passengers are granted the right of access and hotel reservations are paid for on arrival at the hotel.
Why are Nigerians treated like trash in South Africa? Mr. Osatuyi deserves an unreserved apology from the South African government because it is a slap on the citizenry of this country and we find it unacceptable that a hard working person like himself would be treated as a criminal charged with an offence.
I also believe that if this trend continues, we should be reciprocal in our attitude towards South African citizens when they arrive our shores. Full payment of hotel accommodation must be made before they board flights to our esteemed country.
Enough is enough! Justice must be served.
Adebisi Adegbite Kuforiji