Beleaguered Mpumalanga human settlements head Kebone Masange previously claimed to authorities that he was born in Johannesburg (Gauteng), in Pietermaritzburg (KwaZulu-Natal) and in Brits (North-West), when applying for documents during his stay in South Africa since 1995.
The Hawks have been assigned Masange’s case after immigration officers arrested him on Wednesday and have now clarified how the Zimbabwean-born government official managed to get three identity documents.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the 51-year-old Masange had been charged with fraud in contravention of the Immigration Act after he misrepresented himself three times before home affairs.
“According to the national population register, Masange was issued with three different identity documents on different dates,” Mulaudzi said.
Masange applied for two identity documents as a South African and for the third one he applied as a Zimbabwean granted exemption to be in the country in 1997.
The exemption, Mulaudzi said, was at odds with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) amnesty provisions, which stated that an applicant needed to have continuously lived in South Africa since July 1991 to qualify.
“A few months before the SADC exemption was approved, Masange reportedly submitted an application for notice of birth and his first RSA identity document at the Ferreirasdorp regional offices in Johannesburg, using the name Kebone Masangeni in March 1997. In the said application, he claimed that he was born in Johannesburg,” said Mulaudzi.
In May 1997, Masange claimed that he was born in Pietermaritzburg and was issued with another identity document as a South African citizen.
Mulaudzi said Masange also reportedly managed to assist his then wife to obtain permanent residence status in January 2007.
“The accused was at some stage summoned to the home affairs offices for an interview after the three different ID numbers attributed to him were picked up in the system. He then deposed a sworn affidavit stating that he was born in Letlhabile, Brits.
“Masange has clearly misrepresented himself three times to the department and he also failed to surrender both identity documents that he obtained through misrepresentation during the 2010 amnesty that was granted to Zimbabwean nationals,” said Mulaudzi.
Masange appeared in the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court on Thursday and was released on warning. He is expected back in court on September 11 pending further investigations.
Premier to decide on Masange’s future
Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane has not yet taken a decision on Masange’s suspension.
Mtshweni-Tsipane’s spokesperson, Sibongile Mkani-Mpolweni, said the premier was waiting for a report from law enforcement agencies.
Masange was employed in the department of human settlements in 2015 and before that he was the municipal manager of Newcastle Local Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.
The position of head of department is considered to be strategic and the ANC plays an active role in identifying and deploying candidates. Lucky Ndinisa, who was Mpumalanga ANC secretary at the time of Masange’s appointment, said that could not remember dealing with the latter’s deployment.
“I do not remember him. I must, however, say that as the ANC we didn’t have the capacity to vet candidates and we relied on government and took everything at face value,” Ndinisa said.