Pretoria - In an ongoing clampdown on the use of fraudulent South African documents, a Bangladeshi national was arrested while trying to leave the country on Wednesday night via the OR Tambo International Airport with a fraudulent South Africa passport.
“We have traced where this passport was issued and which corrupt home affairs official issued it. The corrupt official who issued it is one of those who are on the radar of the department’s counter corruption branch, hence another arrest is imminent,” said Home Affairs Minister Motsoaledi.
Upon further investigation, the department has uncovered that the Bangladeshi national applied for asylum in December 2015, and his application was rejected “because he is definitely not in need of asylum”.
He has been appealing through the “elaborate” appeals system in South Africa ever since.
Motsoaledi highlighted that the Bangladeshi national was found in possession of a travel permit purportedly issued by the “Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh” recently, in April.
“The significance of this is that an asylum seeker cannot have any document issued by the country of origin because they are supposed to have ran away from there. The department of home affairs is extremely concerned about the abuse of the asylum system of our country.
“We will not tire or be dissuaded from fighting to eliminate corruption in all areas of home affairs, whether perpetrated by a foreign national or a South African. We will continue arresting all of them,” said the minister.
On Thursday, the Krugersdorp Magistrate's Court released on bail 26 of the 27 people arrested in March for allegedly being part of a syndicate that included home affairs officials and Somalian nationals producing fake passports.
The man believed to be the mastermind behind the crimes, a Pakistani national, was denied bail.
The arrest of the syndicate members was hailed as a major success by the department. The arrested people included 14 South Africans while the rest were foreign nationals.
The 26 were released on R2 000 bail and the matter was postponed to July 5.
At the time of the arrest, Gauteng Hawks spokesperson Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu said R45 000 in cash was found as well as the vehicles believed to be used by the syndicate.
At the time of the arrest, Motsoaledi confirmed that the suspected kingpin worked with people inside home affairs in a network that spanned KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
Two of the people arrested are home affairs employees. Motsoaledi said he expected more officials to be arrested.
“We identified the kingpin after an immigration alert picked up anomalies with two passports of people who wanted to leave the country via Cape Town International Airport. That official handed over the two people and their passports to the police,” Motsoaledi said.
It is alleged that the leader charged about R40 000 for a fake passport. The two home affairs officials allegedly made R5 000 to R10 000 per passport.
According to the minister, the head of the syndicate would get passports for foreign nationals who wanted passports but did not qualify for them. A runner would then recruit South African citizens who had never applied for a passport before.
The home affairs officials or “lieutenants” would secure an office where they could authenticate the documents.
“It is alleged that the kingpin bought cars for his lieutenants, presumably to enable them to be at his disposal day and night. In other words, the lieutenants were always available to the kingpin when he needed them,” Motsoaledi added at the time.