Home Affairs Minister welcomes sentencing of corrupt official

Monday, October 2, 2023

Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, today welcomed the lengthy sentences recently meted out to two South Africans and a Pakistani national in two different cases in Durban and Johannesburg, respectively, for passport related crimes.

Arfan Ahmed, a Pakistani national who was arrested in a sting operation that included the Counter Corruption Branch of Home Affairs, the Hawks and the Police Crime Intelligence on 24 March 2022 at the Home Affairs office in Krugersdorp, has been sentenced to eight years imprisonment by the Brixton Magistrate Court.

He was sentenced for the passports that were found in his house following his arrest in Krugersdorp. The department awaits his sentencing for his role in the Krugersdorp passport syndicate.

Ahmed is a kingpin of a passport syndicate that sought to undermine the country’s laws by fraudulently procuring South African passports for Pakistani nationals who did not have a legal right to possess South African passports.

He was working with some corrupt officials of Home Affairs in a network that spanned Gauteng, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Mpumalanga.

While the Pakistani is languishing in jail, the 12 corrupt Home Affairs officials who enabled his scheme have already been fired and submitted to the Hawks for criminal investigations.

In another important development, the Durban Magistrate Court sentenced Anda Ngozi and Nomathandazo Mboyane to 26 and 24 years, respectively. The two were officials of the Department of Home Affairs employed at the office in Queenstown, in the Eastern Cape.

They used to travel 650km each way at a time during the night to Home Affairs offices in Commercial Road and in Prospecton in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, to fraudulently process 52 passports for foreign nationals, mostly from the DRC, who are not legally entitled to them.

They were paid between R3 000 and R5 000 for each passport. South Africans who were prepared to lend their identities for this nefarious scheme were paid a paltry R500. These were usually young people who were on nyaope.

The two were arrested in November 2022 by Counter Corruption Branch of Home Affairs and the Hawks following the conclusion of an internal investigation led by the Counter Corruption Branch.

Ngozi was sentenced for eight years for fraud, as well as for contravention of the:

•            Identification Act – four years

•            Immigration Act – four years

•            Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act – 10 years

Mboyane was sentenced for eight years for fraud, as well as for contravention of the:

•            Identification Act – four years

•            Immigration Act – four years

•            Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act – eight years

The sentences of the two will run concurrently, practically meaning that Ngozi will spend 10 years, while Mboyane will spend eight years.

“I am extremely pleased that the courts are meting out lengthy sentences to those who seek to undermine the integrity of Home Affairs systems. It is worth noting that the courts had refused bail to all three after their arrests.

"I am also happy the collective work of the multidisciplinary law enforcement teams has ensured that these rascals face the full might of the law for their criminal actions,” said Minister Motsoaledi.

Minister Motsoaledi added that he was looking forward to the sentencing of more people related to these two cases as the Hawks haven't yet closed their investigations.

“Once again, I want to reiterate that we shall stop at nothing in ensuring that all Home Affairs officials who engage in malfeasance face the full might of the law. If you are at Home Affairs and are corrupt, expect our knock at your door," said Minister Motsoaledi.

He added that the actions of corrupt officials, kingpins, South Africans and corrupt foreign nationals have the following consequences for the country:

•            People who don’t qualify for South African passports are legitimised through these actions to the detriment of the sovereignty of our country.

•            They can use these documents to travel the world as South Africans, and in the process, they may be committing acts that are detrimental to the reputation of the country.

•            More worrisome is the fact that even those who claim to be asylum seekers or refugees use these passports to travel back to their home countries proving that the whole claim of asylum was just a rouse.

•            South Africans will find it difficult to travel the world as the authenticity of their documents will be questioned.

"South Africans who stupidly lend their identities to be utilised in this manner end up suffering serious prejudice when trying to do transactions with other State institutions, banks and some industry associations.

“This is because the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA), banks and the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) verify the identity of the people they transact with through the Home Affairs National Population Register (NPR).

"Every time you apply for an ID or passport you are required to take a photo. The latest photo you take becomes the one in our database and all previous ones are automatically deleted.

"So, if a South African sells their identity in this way, it means that the photo in the Home Affairs system is that of the foreign national. So, institutions verifying through NPR refuse to deal with people whose identity at Home Affairs have pictures that don't look like the person in front of them," said Motsoaledi.

The Durban Magistrate Court also ordered that the 52 passports be surrendered to the State.

Because of this abuse of the passport application system, Home Affairs has drastically changed the processes through which passports are acquired in the country. – SAnews.gov.za