Home Affairs minister vows to deal with ‘crocodiles’ hiding in high positions

Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS

Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS

Published Mar 18, 2024


Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has vowed that the days of ‘crocodiles’ lingering in the country with fraudulent documents are numbered as his department vows to work hand-in-hand with specialist investigative authorities.

The minister made the comments during a briefing in Pretoria yesterday, while clarifying reports of the negative impact on the tourism sector following the leak of an internal communication circular released by his department last year.

He also addressed reports of a looming court challenge by suspended North West Development Corporation chief financial officer Kuda Mpofu, as reported by a Sunday publication on March 10, in what he described as “a national embarrassment”.

Motsoaledi explained that despite his best efforts to explain the circular issued by his department on December 21, 2023, on two separate occasions in Parliament, there remained some backlash from the tourism industry about the negative impact this communique had on the sector.

He explained that the internal circular was actually directed to the commissioner of the Border Management Authority, managers of ports of entries, provincial inspectorate and visa facilitation centres, and given how this issue was already law, the circular was not necessary.

“I conceded it was an unfortunate circular which should not have been issued as matters it was trying to clarify could have easily been addressed in the normal course of operations between the two entities.”

He added: “The concept of declaring people undesirable, the word is perhaps unfortunate as it sounds scary but it is the term used by the Immigration Act of 2002 enacted in Parliament and it appears in the Immigration Act 30 of 2002 as well.”

Given that his department understood that there could be delays with exiting the country within the allocated days, Motsoaledi explained that the receipt issued to tourists upon applying for an extension would act as an extension of their visa until such time they had received a response from the department.

“This means no law enforcement officer, immigration or officials at the ports of entry may trouble you while you are carrying this type of receipt.”

Motsoaledi highlighted the reports regarding Mpofu’s court challenge to stop the Department of Home Affairs from deporting him to Zimbabwe.

The minister expressed that it was an embarrassment that Mpofu had not only obtained fraudulent documents but also managed to obtain employment within an entity dealing with public funds.

He confirmed that the permit reference number appearing on Mpofu’s documents did not exist in their systems, and that the control number appearing on his document, although valid, was not issued by the department to him but rather issued legitimately to another individual.

“As to how Mpofu came across that control number we do not know. It is a matter that will be investigated later.”

However, the challenge by Mpofu has raised a number of questions about the work of the department in responding to court challenges and how these discrepancies came about, namely, why officials did not respond to court papers, and how the North West Development Corporation’s human resources unit employed him without performing due diligence.

In addition, the minister said he wanted to establish why officials who picked up on the Mpofu matter did not open a police case immediately and make an attempt to get the fraudulent documents from him.

He said that, according to their records, Mpofu and his lawyers had been informed on June 23, 2023 that his purported permanent resident permit was actually fraudulent, and it was for this reason, among other issues, that the case had been handed over to the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

“When we were accused of doing nothing about the people crossing our borders, I told the country that people want us to chase lizards while crocodiles are abundant.

“Crocodiles are respectable people who enter the country legally wearing suits or high heels, carrying briefcases full of cash to bribe officials to legalise their stay in the country.

“We have reason to believe that crocodiles are found all over the country in very high positions, and I want to report today that their days are numbered because we are not going to take this issue lying down, and the SIU will be very active,” Motsoaledi said.

The Star