South Africa

Home Affairs busts syndicates selling passports and identities in South Africa

The Department of Home Affairs is intensifying its fight against syndicates involved in the sale of the identities of South Africans to foreign nationals.

The unrelenting pushback against these schemes continues to yield positive results, following the arrest on Friday of yet another South African national, Nico Ibrahim, at the Home Affairs office in Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg.

Ibrahim had been on the run since April this year following the arrest of the recruiter, Mohamed Ali; a corrupt former Home Affairs official, Nhlanhla Mathebula and four others who were involved in a photo swap scheme at the Home Affairs office in White River, Mpumalanga.

Both Ali and Mathebula were denied bail and are on trial at the Mbombela Magistrate Court.

Ibrahim appeared at the Kliptown Magistrate Court on Monday and remains in custody for seven days.

Also on Friday, two Bangladeshi nationals were arrested by law enforcement officials who included Home Affairs Counter Corruption and Home Affairs Immigration officials, and the Hawks while trying to use fraudulently acquired passports to leave the country via OR Tambo International Airport.

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They were remanded in custody for seven days after appearing at the Kempton Park Magistrate Court on Monday.

One of the Bangladeshis, Morshed Alam, arrived in South Africa in 2016 and is wanted for fraud in eThekwini after he applied for a passport he did not qualify for at the Home Affairs office on Commercial Road.

The official who issued the passport, Judy Zuma, was dismissed by the Department of Home Affairs in December 2021.

She is currently facing criminal charges including corruption, fraud, and breaching the Immigration Act and the Identification Act. The corruption charge stems from her arrest in a sting operation after she tried to bribe a Counter Corruption officer with R10 000.

The fraudulent passport of the second Bangladeshi, Fakrul Islam, was issued by Mathebula. Islam arrived in South Africa in 2013 and is currently a holder of a Temporary Residence Visa, which is due to expire in 2024.

“Our persistent efforts are paying off. Since we arrested the Pakistani kingpin and 29 other people, including Home Affairs officials in Krugersdorp on March 24, we have been unrelenting,” said Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.

“We have been on the trail of those who are participating in these schemes, and we are dealing harshly with our corrupt officials who facilitate these shameful acts.

“These arrests on Friday demonstrate that these criminals have nowhere to run. The police and our Counter Corruption unit are hot on their trail. We are expecting more arrests.

“All documents that are found to have been issued in fraudulent schemes are immediately cancelled by the department, and thus rendering them useless to the person who holds them,” the Minister said.

Read: Hiring drive at Home Affairs – thousands scramble for a job

Artmotion S.Africa

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