Lebogang Ndlovu. Sounds like a South African name, right? Not if you illegally buy your citizenship. This is the name a Bangladesh citizen, who was arrested at OR Tambo this week, christened himself with.
Ndlovu, real name Fahim Kazi, was picked up as he tried to leave the country on Wednesday night.
The Department of Home Affairs, which has embarked on a massive clean-up campaign, found the Bangladeshi had unsuccessfully applied for asylum in 2015. He is said to have been based in Kimberly, Northern Cape.
Minister Aaron Motsoaledi pleaded with South Africans to value their documents and not sell them to the highest bidder.
“We have traced where this passport was issued and which corrupt Home Affairs official issued it. The corrupt official who issued it is one of those who are under the radar of the department’s counter-corruption branch, hence another arrest is imminent,” Motsoaledi said in a statement.
“We will not tire or be dissuaded from fighting to eliminate corruption in all areas of Home Affairs, whether perpetrated by a foreign national or a South African. We will continue arresting all of them.”
Sunday World reported last month that an explosive report prepared by the department’s top brass lifted the lid on the extent to which the recently uncovered fake passport syndicate has penetrated the department, a “serious” security breach for the republic.
The report shows how a criminal network – which includes 13 foreign nationals and 13 South Africans spanning Gauteng, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Mpumalanga – weaved itself into Home Affairs using corrupt officials.
The report, prepared for Motsoaledi, shows that at the Maponya Mall in Soweto, three officials – including an office manager – helped more than 50 foreign nationals obtain fake passports. At the Germiston office, two officials helped 15 foreign nationals get fraudulent
Other places where the syndicate operates include the Vereeniging large office, where an official assisted seven foreign nationals to get passports through a photo-swapping scam, while in Western Cape’s Nyanga and Atlantis offices, officials have been fingered for working with the criminals to issue seven fake passports.
In an interview with Sunday World last month, Motsoaledi said they would be recruiting 12 more members for the department’s anti-corruption unit as part of the war against graft, “which can’t be lost or otherwise we risk the country’s DNA being destroyed”.
The minster said he was working around the clock to ensure that the appeals process for documents – which has resulted in some foreign nationals not qualify to stay in South Africa for extended periods – becomes more effective.
Meanwhile, the magistrate’s court in Krugersdorp on Friday granted R2 000 bail to 26 of the 27 people arrested for allegedly being a part of a fake passport syndicate, and postponed the case to July.
One of the accused was denied bail because the court heard he is a flight risk as he allegedly gained entry into South Africa illegally and obtained his asylum fraudulently. His status has since been revoked.