SOUTH Africa could soon impose visa requirements on British visitors in a tit-for-tat reaction to the UK government's cancellation of South Africa's visa-free status.
The UK move came after fraudulent South African passports were used to enter the country.
A meeting between South African and UK ministers was held in Cape Town yesterday, but the foreign ministers were coy about the outcome.
One South African diplomat, however, said South Africa was preparing to "reciprocate" the visa requirement.
South African officials believe that fraudulent passports are no longer the problem they once were after a revamp of the Department of Home Affairs into "a well-oiled machine".
They claim that the introduction of "smart" ID cards will ensure that the country's passports are "safe".
But UK officials are adamant that the visa requirement will be retained. Last year, the UK government also announced that it would halt its annual direct aid to South Africa – in the region of £19-million (R300-million) – this year.
South African officials appear to have reconciled themselves to the change, with one saying yesterday that South Africa should now focus on improving trade with the UK.
An SA-UK business council was launched yesterday. It is similar to the body Brics set up in April to increase networking opportunities for business leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said there was a need to "redouble efforts" to increase bilateral trade and investment.