Glut of real fake SA passports: paper

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The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) says an unusually large number of dubious South African passports are turning up at the Beit Bridge border post.

Immigration officers stationed on the border post say they are coming across about 80 dodgy South African passports a day, the Business Day newspaper reports.

DHA spokeswoman Siobhan McCarthy says the department will be doing “further investigations to establish how people got fraudulent South African passports.”

The paper said officials suspect the passports were fraudulently obtained with the help of corrupt officials from the department.

The DHA has permitted the late registration of births since 1994 in order to give mainly black South Africans the opportunity to get identity documents. “However, this provided a loophole for the fraudulent issuance of ID documents to foreigners. It is believed that having secured such papers, many people from neighbouring countries were able to blend into South African society, thanks to their Nguni names,” Busness Day added.

Last month, Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the late registration of births would be phased out this year. The department, “which is involved in a R800 million turnaround project, was under pressure to clamp down on the corruption that led last year to the UK government imposing a visa regime on South Africans.”

Yesterday, Zimbabwe’s main official daily newspaper, The Herald, reported that SA’s blitz on illegal migrants had left many, including people from countries north of Zimbabwe, stranded in Beitbridge. To escape the blitz other travellers had opted to get to SA via Botswana.

McCarthy said at all border posts, immigration officials were always on the lookout for suspicious passports. But the end of the festive holidays had seen an intensification of checks at Beitbridge and Lebombo, now SA’s busiest border posts.

Those suspected of travelling on illegally issued documents had their passports taken away. They were allowed to proceed but were given a slip with a date on which to present themselves for an interview at home affairs’ Pretoria offices.

McCarthy said such people had to be assumed to be South African citizens until proved otherwise. A trader had his passport and that of his child confiscated at Beitbridge two days after Christmas. He is required to present his parents’ IDs, with a letter from his chief and church, the bsiness daily added.

Last month, home affairs suspended 59 officials implicated in the fraudulent registration of foreigners, mainly from Pakistan.



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