What is the change? For overstaying her visa by one day, celebrity British stylist Sophia Hesketh has been put on South Africa’s list of “undesirable persons” and is barred from entering the country for the next 12 months unless she obtains a waiver from the Director-General of the South African Department of Home Affairs.

What does the change mean? Travelers are reminded that South Africa is serious about enforcing entry bans under the Immigration Act with all travelers, even high-profile and frequent visitors to South Africa.

Background: Hesketh, a British socialite and daughter of U.K. politician, baron and Grand Prix team owner Alexander Hesketh, was reportedly in Western Cape for a photo shoot but overstayed her visa by one day. Upon preparing to leave from the Cape Town airport, she was stopped, put on the list of “undesirable persons” and banned from the country for one year.

This is not the first case in which South African authorities have made an example of a celebrity who violated immigration regulations. In 2016, American hip-hop artist Mos Def was detained in Cape Town when he attempted to leave the country using a “world passport,” which South Africa does not recognize. South African prosecutors also sought to bring criminal charges against the musician, but dropped them after he apologized and agreed to leave the country on a U.S. passport. The government still barred him from re-entering the country unless he secures a waiver of inadmissibility.

BAL Analysis: Travelers to South Africa are reminded that provisions of the Immigration Act, including re-entry bars for individuals declared “undesirable persons,” are in effect and will be strictly enforced.

This alert has been provided by the BAL South Africa office. For additional information, please contact

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