The magistrate’s court in Krugersdorp has 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 the republic illegally and obtained his asylum fraudulently. His asylum status was subsequently revoked.
The group, which includes Home Affairs officials and Somalian nationals, was arrested in March. It is alleged that they would use SA citizens’ details to produce passports for foreigners, which they sold at a whopping R40 000 each.
National Prosecuting Authority’s regional spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said at the time that the arrest happened after a multi-disciplinary operation involving the Hawks, cash-in-transit task team, Home Affairs’ anti-corruption unit, and the Johannesburg Central tactical response team.
Mjonondwane said the sting operation was carried out at the offices of Home Affairs in Krugersdorp in the early hours of March 25.
“Law-enforcement authorities received a tip-off about the alleged passport-making syndicate that works with Home Affairs officials to identify South Africans that are willing to sell their identities for R500,” she said at the time.
The group faces charges of corruption, being in possession of suspected fraudulent documents, and contravening the Immigration Act.
ActionSA is, however, not pleased with the outcome of the bail hearing, stating in a statement on Thursday that the accused did not deserve to be out on bail.
It said: “We will continue to keep our eye on this case and hope that if found guilty in a court of law, an example will be made of the syndicate, because to do otherwise would only serve to further undermine the rule of law and sovereignty of our country.”
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