A multi-disciplinary operation involving the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation, cash-in-transit task team, Department of Home Affairs’ Anti-Corruption, and Johannesburg Central Tactical Response Team, has resulted in the arrest of 29 suspects for alleged fraud, corruption, contravention of the Immigration Act and possession of suspected fraudulent documents on Thursday.
The suspects were arrested on Thursday evening at the Home Affairs office in Krugersdorp, following intelligence received regarding the fraudulent passport allegations countrywide.
According to Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Friday, the arrested kingpin and his syndicate had been operating in South Africa’s six provinces, excluding the Northern Cape, Free State and North West.
The scam is allegedly mostly done by Pakistani and Somali citizens, said Motsoaledi.
How South Africans were involved
“What they do is, they recruit foreign nationals who need South African passports but don’t deserve them because they’re here illegally. Then they recruit a corrupt Home Affairs official. At night, the Home Affairs official opens the offices. They bring an equal number of South Africans and foreign nationals. Each South African will donate their identify to the corresponding foreign national,” explained Motsoaledi in an interview with Newzroom Afrika.
“The South Africans who are recruited don’t have passports, so they apply for passports and provide their personal details and fingerprints. But when it’s time to take a photo, the South African moves aside and the foreign national moves in and takes a photo. All the details belong to a South African, but the photo belongs to a foreign national, who then applies for a passport and goes all over the world as a South African.”
Motsoaledi said the South African who donates their ID is paid R500, while the corrupt Home Affairs official gets R5,000 per passport. The Kingpin gets R40,000.
The minister admitted that the department had corrupt officials who enabled the abuse of the system to favour foreign nationals who were in the country illegally. Law enforcement agencies are currently looking for eight such officials connected to the passport scheme.
“I won’t blame South Africans for being angry, in fact, I am angry. We are being abused. People come here, claim to be asylum seekers and then defraud our documents. It’s unacceptable and we’re going to wipe them off. I personally am not going to accept this issue.”
According to Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu, upon searching the premises, authorities found approximately R45,000 in cash wrapped in a black plastic bag and also seized three White Toyota Fortuners allegedly used to transport the suspects to be collected from Eldorado Pak and Cosmo City.
“Further investigation led the team to the alleged kingpin’s house at Northcliff in Randburg where his wife and more fraudulent passports were found. She was also arrested and charged for possession of suspected fraudulent documents.”
The 29 suspects, aged between 42 and 19, are expected to appear in the Krugersdorp and Randburg Magistrates’ Courts respectively on Monday.
This comes just days after Malawian nationals were arrested and charged for contravention of the Immigration Act after allegedly entering the country illegally last Wednesday.
According to Brigadier Selvy Mohlala, the 34 people, aged between 21 and 34, were arrested on the R 541 Road near Elukwatini on Wednesday morning, on charges of being in the country illegally.
Members from Elukwatini SAPS were working on the road between Badplaas and Nhlazatshe (Elukwatini) and while executing their duties, they stopped two mini buses that were trailing each other.
“A search was then conducted by the members on the two kombis upon which it was discovered that the occupants were Malawian Nationals without valid permits/ documentations. In addition to the 34, there were also two children, both aged 2 who reportedly came with their mothers into the country,” said Mohlala.
The Malawian nationals – 23 men and 11 women – were all charged for contravention of the Immigration Act.