Durban - Four officials from the Department of Home Affairs have been arrested by the Hawks following allegations of fraud and corruption.
The Tzaneen officials, aged between 35 and 43, are alleged to have colluded with “runners” to recruit South African citizens to apply for the passports.
The suspects, who were employed as Administration Clerks, were arrested in the Tzaneen area during a sting operation between the Hawks and Home Affairs Counter Corruption and Security members on Wednesday.
According to Hawks spokesperson Captain Matimba Maluleke, it is alleged that during the application process, the passports would contain the particulars of South African citizens, but the photos would be of illegal foreign nationals.
Maluleke said the Home Affairs Counter Corruption and Security unit discovered these “illegal activities” in May this year and referred the matter to the Hawks’ Serious Corruption Investigation.
“During the investigations, it was revealed that the citizens whose particulars were used would be paid R1000.”
All four suspects are expected to appear in the Tzaneen Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
According to the Hawks, the investigation was ongoing, and they were still searching for other suspects.
Last month, Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said eight officials have been fired over issuing of fraudulent passports since the beginning of this year, while four have been hauled before a disciplinary inquiry.
IOL reported that 500 passports were identified as fraudulent over the past three years and that 185 passports and their numbers were blocked on the National Population Register.