Pretoria – The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) has arrested three additional immigration officials attached to the Lebombo port of entry, linking South Africa and Mozambique, for alleged fraud and corruption.
The three arrested on Sunday join their three colleagues who were arrested on Friday during a tour of the border by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
“It is alleged that information was received from crime intelligence regarding the allegation of fraud and corruption by immigration officials attached to Lebombo port of entry, that they were issuing temporary residence permits, working permits and also stamping passports to extend the stay of the illegal immigrants who are coming from Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Malawi,” said Hawks spokesperson Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi.
“It is further alleged that an immigrant can send an individual with their passports and bribe money to the immigration officials at Lebombo port of entry for stamping.”
Sekgotodi said an intelligence-driven operation was conducted at the border, and “alleged targets” were positively identified while doing the criminal activities.
“Information was gathered, and investigation linked the suspects to the crime. A warrant of arrest was obtained and executed on Friday 12, November 2021, whereby the (three) officials were arrested while on duty in the presence of the minister (Motsoaledi) and their colleagues. The six are detained at Komartipoort police cells pending their court appearance on Monday,” said Sekgotodi.
She said two more immigration officials were set to be handed over to law enforcement officers on Monday by their lawyers, bringing the total to eight.
Meanwhile, the provincial head for the Hawks in Mpumalanga, Major General Zodwa Mokoena, has applauded the “good work” by the team which intervened at the border.
Mokoena also acknowledged the presence of Motsoaledi during the operation and the fight against corruption.
On Friday, Motsoaledi said the arrested people included immigration officials, a police officer posted at the border and a Mozambican woman believed to have masterminded the plot to bring over people across the border illegally.
“This scam consists of collecting passports from people whose time in South Africa is about to expire, taking them to the Mozambican lady, who has a network of officials that she works with at the border. The lady will then get the officials to stamp the passport as if the owner of the passport has been through the border and back,” the department of home affairs said.