Since Mpumalanga Human Settlements head, Kebone Masange (51), was charged last week for allegedly fraudulently obtaining his South African citizenship, there have been two burglaries at the department’s offices.
A source in the Mpumalanga provincial government, who spoke to City Press on condition of anonymity, alleged that the break-ins happened this week and it was suspected the criminals were looking for documents. The latest incident was on Tuesday night.
“The police, including the provincial commissioner [General Mondli Zuma], are on the scene this morning,” the source said on Wednesday.
The government complex at Riverside Park in Mbombela is under police guard day and night.
The source said the criminals entered the complex through the back near the Crocodile River which is bushy and they could not be detected because surveillance cameras were not working.
Mpumalanga police spokesperson, Brigadier Leonard Hlathi, said he was not aware of the break-ins but was trying to get hold of Zuma.
On Tuesday Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane placed the Zimbabwe-born Masange on special leave following his arrest by immigration officers in Pretoria last Wednesday.
The department of home affairs has since handed the case over to the Hawks. According to the elite police unit, Masange has been charged with fraud in contravention of the Immigration Act after he misrepresented himself three times before the department.
Since 1995 when he applied for identity documents (IDs), he had stated that he was born in three different places – Johannesburg in Gauteng, Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal and Brits, in the North-West. Hawks spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, said Masange was issued with three IDs on different dates.
Masange applied for two IDs as a South African and a third as a Zimbabwean granted exemption to be in the country in 1997.
Mulaudzi said the 1996 exemption, offered to people from the region who had been in the country illegally, was at odds with the Southern African Development Community amnesty which stated that an applicant needed to have continuously lived in South Africa since July 1991 to qualify.
Masange appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court last Thursday and was released on warning. He will be back in court on September 11.
Masange was employed in the department of human settlements in 2015. Before that, he was the municipal manager of Newcastle Local Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mtshweni-Tsipane’s spokesperson, Sibongile Mkani-Mpolweni, said that no internal investigation would be conducted.
“We await the finalisation of the investigation currently being conducted by law enforcement agencies,” Mkani-Mpolweni said.
“The premier’s decision to place him on special leave is informed by the responsibility to grant Masange sufficient space and time to attend to the recent developments pertaining to his alleged contravention of immigration law,” she added.