SA flagging fake IDs, passports with foreign countries to chase down syndicates

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Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
Photo: GCIS
  • Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says his department is chasing down syndicates selling fake IDs and passports.
  • In many cases, Home Affairs officials are directly involved.
  • Last month, a senior official was arrested for his involvement in a passport fraud syndicate.

The net is closing in on syndicates manufacturing and selling fake South African passports and IDs.

Following the arrest of a kingpin who allegedly sold fake IDs and passports, the Department of Home Affairs is chasing down those behind the syndicates.

According to Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's response to a written parliamentary question from IFP's Liezl van der Merwe, fake IDs and passports were flagged domestically and across the country's borders.

READ | 'It is a crisis' - Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announces 'complete overhaul' of SA immigration system

Motsoaledi said when fraudulent documents were detected, the department's civic services branch referred the cases to the counter corruption branch.

If it involves department officials, the security services branch investigates the matter.

Immigration services' inspectorate division deals with matters relating to foreign nationals.

"Otherwise, cases are referred to the South African Police Services and other law enforcement agencies," he added.

In March, officials nabbed an alleged kingpin in a midnight sting operation in the department's Krugersdorp office.

At the time, the department vowed to follow up on all the members of the passport fraud syndicate, be they foreign nationals or South Africans.

Last month, Hlahla Mathebula, a senior official in the White River office in Mpumalanga, was arrested with four people who are allegedly part of the passport fraud syndicates.

The four were transported from Eldorado Park in Gauteng to the Home Affairs office in White River, to allegedly give up their identities for R500 per person.

Mathebula allegedly facilitated the identity transfer from South Africans to Pakistani nationals for a fee of R5 000 per passport.

According to the department, the alleged Pakistani kingpin received R40 000 from his countrymen who desired South African passports they were not entitled to.

READ | Electoral reform bill: Replacing independent candidates via by-elections impractical - Motsoaledi

The sting operation was carried out by Home Affairs' counter corruption branch, police, Hawks, Crime Intelligence, and other law enforcement agencies.

Officials are also in search of another senior official from the Praktiseer office in Burgersfort, Limpopo. The official evaded arrest in May by, allegedly, running to a sangoma.

Motsoaledi said once investigations were completed and documents were found to be fraudulent, a process to block it would start.

"The department follows a process to set markers to block, nullify and cancel the fraudulently issued identity documents and passports on the National Population Register as a means to maintain the credibility of the system in the country.

"The immigration service branch within the department is also involved in flagging such documents on the Movement Control System.

"As a result, a note verbale is also published and circulated through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation as a means to communicate to foreign countries regarding fake or fraudulently issued passports and identity documents," he added.

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