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Johannesburg - The fraudulently obtained passport bought by the woman now known as the White Widow during the time she lived in South Africa has lifted the lid on several Pakistani syndicates operating schemes similar to the one Samantha Lewthwaite used.
Last week it was revealed that Lewthwaite, a British citizen who has since been linked to the terrorist attack in Nairobi and is now being sought by Interpol, had entered the east African country using a South African passport, which was authentic but fraudulently obtained under the name of Natalie Faye Webb.
It was reported that Lewthwaite bought passports for her and her two children in Durban from convicted fraudster Ehmed Chisty for R60 000.
The Sunday Independent was reliably informed that Home Affairs has been searching for three men who have been running ID schemes across the city similar to Chisty’s, raking in between R50 000 and R120 000 for each ID.
The department is also believed to be looking for a South African woman, Fatima Allie, who has allegedly been married to seven foreigners to allow them to get South African citizenship.
Home Affairs spokesman Lunga Ngqengelele confirmed that the department was investigating Anjum Rava, Imran Butt, Javed Masih and Fatima Allie after receiving the information about their identity business dealings in Joburg.
Ngqengelele would not comment further, saying the investigations were still continuing.
“We cannot give out information on matters under investigation (and) we cannot say when we will effect an arrest as it would jeopardise any action the department intended taking,” said Ngqengelele.
But a source with intimate knowledge of the investigations who cannot be named, said Masih was apparently in prison in Malawi after being arrested with a fake South African identity document and being found guilty of human trafficking. Despite Home Affairs investigating Rava and finding that his documentation was fraudulent, they have not been able to find him, the source added.
The source said that although Home Affairs had been informed of Butt’s movements last year, the investigation had mysteriously stalled.
Ngqengelele said he was aware of the allegation that Masih was in a Malawi prison, but could not comment further.
Documentation seen by The Sunday Independent shows how Masih, Rava and Butt entered the country as early as 1998 and speedily received their documents.
Masih arrived in the country in 1998 and married Allie in 1999.
At the time Allie had already been married four or five times.
Rava received citizenship within one year of marrying a South African woman who died.
He received citizenship three months after receiving permanent residency.
Butt is alleged to have married a South African woman in the Eastern Cape within weeks of arriving in the country.
According to the source, the men scammed the system by registering as immigration practitioners who assist foreigners to apply for documentation in the country but then used their status to “abuse the system”, the source said.
“Home Affairs wants to abolish practitioners but they don’t know how to. The problem with practitioners is that there is no way to regulate them.
“Practitioners are supposed to write exams but most practitioners do not,” said the source.
The syndicates charge illegal foreign immigrants between R50 000 and R120 000 for authentic identity documents, which they fraudulently obtain by colluding with corrupt Home Affairs officials.
The money is reportedly split between the men and the officials.
The Pakistani High Commission did not respond to media queries at the time of publication.
Attempts to reach Rava, Butt, Masih and Allie on the numbers listed for them failed. - Sunday Independent