Cleveland family face travel restrictions that keep them separated from family in South Africa

BORDER PATROL: Ian Mansvelt, his wife Katharina and children Mea, Ethan and Liam were forced to cancel their first trip back to South Africa since moving to Australia.
BORDER PATROL: Ian Mansvelt, his wife Katharina and children Mea, Ethan and Liam were forced to cancel their first trip back to South Africa since moving to Australia.

IT has been nearly four years since Ian Mansvelt saw his family in South Africa.

Ian, his wife Katharina and their three children had planned a family holiday for Easter back 'home' to Cape Town before international borders slammed shut in March.

Ian left South Africa in December 2016, leaving many of his loved ones behind. The family had saved for two years, booked their flights, accommodation and safari tours and were all set for their three-week break.

Mea (8), Ethan (11) and Liam (12) were looking forward to seeing their cousins and their grandparents.

"We were all looking forward to seeing nieces, nephews and friends. I think not being able to go to South Africa has an emotional and psychological effect on us.

"I've already decided as soon as the borders open again, I'm going ," he said.

Ian and Katharina managed to cancel and get their money back from flights and accommodation, however the safari tour has been a challenge.

"We didn't get our money back, we are stuck between a hard place and a rock... we were forced to postpone the safari at the Kruger National Park until a later stage, but have still not received official confirmation yet," he said.

But with no date when international borders will reopen, the family will have to keep postponing their trip.

Unsure of when his family will be back together again, Ian said he had adapted to life in Australia but still missed his family and friends.

"We speak with my folks every Sunday afternoon," he said.

Feeling every one of those 11,000km between his parents and himself, Ian is particularly concerned that the massive COVID-19 outbreak in South Africa could be devastating for his parents.

There are now 471,123 coronavirus cases across South Africa, with the ministry reporting 7,497 fatalities.