Fake passport bust: 'Ringleader' caught issuing fraudulent documents at Home Affairs, court hears

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People queue outside a Home Affairs branch.
People queue outside a Home Affairs branch.
Moeketsi Mamane
  • A court has heard how a Pakistani national was caught issuing fraudulent passports at a Home Affairs branch.
  • Afran Ahmed allegedly accessed Home Affairs branches at night.
  • He has been accused of being the mastermind behind the syndicate issuing passports to foreigners. 

"He is a smart, cynical person."

This is what the Krugersdorp Magistrate's Court heard during a damning passage of evidence against a Pakistani national alleged to be behind the syndicate that illegally secured passports for undocumented immigrants.

Pakistani national Afran Ahmed appeared in court with 26 other men, which included foreign nationals and South Africans.

Warrant Officer Veerasamy Ponnen described Ahmed as the kingpin and mastermind behind the syndicate.

Ahmed and his 26 co-accused were arrested red-handed inside a Home Affairs branch in Krugersdorp during a late-night raid two weeks ago.

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Ponnen testified that Ahmed had allegedly processed 400 South African passports for foreigners. 

He also said Ahmed accessed Home Affairs branches at night and processed passports.

"He is facing serious charges that are affecting society. He has sabotaged the country. He has brought the reputation of every citizen into disrepute. His full-time job is to commit fraud. 

"He targeted unemployed people by promising R500 to sell their identity documents to him. He smuggled illegal immigrants into the country and provided them with South African passports. He is working with corrupt Home Affairs officials."

According to Ponnen, Ahmed operated in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, Free State and the Eastern Cape.

He said the majority of Ahmed's operations were conducted after Home Affairs offices had closed for the day and "when law-abiding citizens are sleeping".

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"He colludes with Home Affairs officials to make passports that would be later given to illegal immigrants. He knew how to operate systems more than Home Affairs officials," said Ponnen.

The 27 suspects were arrested on 24 March in a sting operation led by Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi.

Ponnen said judging by the damage done by Ahmed, Mostoaledi was eager to catch him in the act.

They were caught inside the Home Affairs branch in Krugersdorp.

Ponnen added that Ahmed had with him 12 South African men who would surrender their identity numbers which were going to be used to make new passports for Somalian nationals.

"When we pounced on them, Ahmed was operating all the systems inside the branch. He was there to ensure that the operation was running smooth. It was not a coincidence that he was arrested inside a Home Affairs office. He has been operating his business for the past three to four years.

"We penetrated the branch around 23:45. We found Ahmed behind the counter, issuing tickets numbers. He was captured on video walking inside the branch like an official. Computers were operating. Ahmed had already processed five passports when we pounced on them," said Ponnen. 

The hearing continues.

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