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The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation has raised concerns over the fact that South Africans are not using the consular services offered by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) when they are travelling or living abroad.

According to Dirco, most South Africans do not register with the Registration of South Africans Abroad (Rosa) when they travel.

Rosa enables the Dirco to assist South African citizens in event of an emergency, such as a kidnapping, hostage-taking, cross-border child abduction or natural disaster, among others.

The registration is a free, voluntary service provided by the department, and is only available to South African citizens who are travelling, living or working abroad.

Chairperson of the committee, Siphosezwe Masango, said that there is a need to educate South Africans about these services.

“Travelling abroad has never been a culture for ordinary South Africans and that might be a reason why citizens are oblivious to the kinds of support and services Dirco offers,” Masango said.

Briefing parliament on Wednesday (29 August), Dirco briefed the committee about the consular services available to travellers, as well as services that are not available, such as the repatriation of mortal remains, cremations and travel logistics.

The committee also heard that about 825 South Africans are currently incarcerated in foreign jails.

Masango urged Dirco to launch a national radio campaign so that people are educated about these services in their home languages.