In a significant development that underscores the commitment of South African authorities to combat passport-related crimes, Home Affairs Minister, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, recently welcomed the imposition of lengthy sentences on individuals involved in fraudulent passport schemes. These cases, one involving a Pakistani national and another implicating two South African officials, have far-reaching implications for the nation’s security and integrity of its identification systems.
Arfan Ahmed – The Kingpin
Arfan Ahmed, a Pakistani national, found himself at the center of a sophisticated passport syndicate designed to undermine South Africa’s laws by illicitly procuring passports for foreign nationals, particularly Pakistanis, who lacked the legal right to possess South African passports. This criminal network spanned across multiple provinces in South Africa, including Gauteng, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and Mpumalanga.
Ahmed’s operation was exposed and dismantled in a joint sting operation involving the Counter Corruption Branch of Home Affairs, the Hawks, and Police Crime Intelligence. The operation led to his arrest on March 24, 2022, at the Home Affairs office in Krugersdorp. Following his arrest, authorities discovered incriminating evidence in the form of passports at Ahmed’s residence.
As a result, the Brixton Magistrate Court sentenced Ahmed to eight years in prison. However, the Department of Home Affairs is awaiting further sentencing related to his role in the broader Krugersdorp passport syndicate. Meanwhile, the 12 corrupt Home Affairs officials who collaborated with Ahmed have already been dismissed and are under investigation by the Hawks.
Anda Ngozi and Nomathandazo Mboyane – The Corrupt Officials
In a separate but equally significant case, the Durban Magistrate Court imposed substantial sentences on two officials of the Department of Home Affairs, Anda Ngozi and Nomathandazo Mboyane. Both individuals worked at the Home Affairs office in Queenstown, Eastern Cape.
Their modus operandi was both audacious and elaborate. Ngozi and Mboyane undertook grueling journeys, covering a distance of 650 kilometers each way during the night, to reach Home Affairs offices in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. Their objective: to fraudulently process passports for foreign nationals, primarily from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who did not possess the legal entitlement to South African passports.
In exchange for their services, the corrupt officials received payments ranging from R3,000 to R5,000 for each passport. Shockingly, some South Africans, often young individuals addicted to nyaope, were willing to lend their identities for this illicit scheme for a paltry sum of R500.
Their criminal activities came to an end in November 2022 when they were arrested by the Counter Corruption Branch of Home Affairs and the Hawks, following an internal investigation.
Ngozi and Mboyane were both sentenced for fraud, as well as contraventions of the Identification Act, Immigration Act, and the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act. Their sentences will run concurrently, resulting in Ngozi serving 10 years and Mboyane serving eight years.
Minister Motsoaledi’s Response
Home Affairs Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi expressed his satisfaction with the lengthy sentences imposed on the culprits, emphasizing the need to protect the integrity of Home Affairs systems. He noted that the courts had refused bail to all three individuals, highlighting the severity of their crimes.
The Minister also underscored the ongoing investigations by the Hawks, indicating that more individuals related to these two cases might face prosecution in the future.
He further explained the dire consequences of such corrupt activities on the nation, including the legitimization of individuals who do not qualify for South African passports and the potential misuse of these passports on the global stage. Minister Motsoaledi also expressed concern about the difficulties South Africans might face when traveling internationally if the authenticity of their documents is questioned due to such fraudulent activities.
As a countermeasure, Home Affairs has revamped the passport acquisition processes within the country to prevent future abuse of the system.
The Durban Magistrate Court additionally ordered the surrender of the 52 fraudulently obtained passports to the State, marking a significant step toward rectifying the damage done by these criminal activities.
In conclusion, these recent sentences send a clear message that South Africa is committed to upholding the integrity of its identification systems and will not tolerate fraudulent passport schemes. The collective efforts of law enforcement agencies have resulted in justice being served, and the nation can look forward to further action against those who seek to undermine its security.