Policeman, Home Affairs officials among eight rounded up in border crossing crime sting
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Durban – Eight people have been arrested following an 18-month investigation into illegal border crossing at the Lebombo border post at Komatipoort.
Minister of Home Affairs Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said a police officer, six Home Affairs officials and a Mozambican woman were arrested.
The department said the Mozambican woman is believed to have masterminded the plot to bring people over illegally.
"This scam consists of collecting passports from people whose time in South Africa is about to expire, take 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 said.
Motsoaledi said the biggest pain for him was that the foreign national, a woman from Mozambique, who is an ordinary hawker, seemed to have been the mastermind who was instructing officials employed by government, to do corruption and destroy the systems in their own country.
"Let me mention that we are aware that the public abhors corruption and would not want to see it happening in their country. Hence on every single week, we get tip-offs from members of the public about acts of corruption conducted by some of our officials they interact with. I am sure that most get discouraged and they get an impression that nothing materialises from their tip-offs," he said.
The minister said the woman was contacted by an undercover agent who asked for her assistance at the border because his passport had expired.
"She came into South Africa running to execute the request and she was immediately nabbed by the police. She is in jail as we speak. We can’t disclose her name because she has not yet appeared in court.
"Before you start thinking that all Home Affairs officials are rogue, let me quickly assure you that a lot of upstanding and exemplary officials did not take money from anyone. Instead, they did what the immigration laws calls on them to do, by denying entry to people who were not carrying legitimate travel documents,“ he said.
The minister warned that crossing the border without the necessary documents, was a crime.
"That is beyond criminal. So the message we are sending today is: respect South Africa, respect Home Affairs, respect immigration laws," Motsoaledi said.