Home Office arrests syndicates selling passports and identities in South Africa

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The Interior Ministry is stepping up its fight against syndicates involved in the sale of South Africans’ identities to foreigners.

Relentless opposition to these plans continues to yield positive results, following Friday’s arrest of yet another South African national, Nico Ibrahim, at the Home Office’s office in Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg.

Ibrahim had been on the run since April this year after the arrest of the recruiter, Mohamed Ali; a corrupt former Home Office official, Nhlanhla Mathebula and four others involved in a photo swap scheme at the Home Office office in White River, Mpumalanga.

Both Ali and Mathebula were denied bail and are on trial before the Mbombela Magistrate Court.

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Ibrahim appeared before the Kliptown Magistrate Court on Monday and remains in custody for seven days.

Also on Friday, two Bangladeshi nationals were arrested by law enforcement officials, including Home Office Anti-Corruption and Home Affairs officials, and the Hawks, while attempting to use fraudulently obtained passports to leave the country through OR Tambo International Airport.

They were held in custody for seven days after appearing before the Kempton Park Magistrate Court on Monday.

One of the Bangladeshis, Morshed Alam, arrived in South Africa in 2016 and is wanted for fraud in eThekwini after applying for a passport for which he was ineligible at the Home Office office on Commercial Road.

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The official who issued the passport, Judy Zuma, was fired by the Interior Ministry in December 2021.

She is currently facing criminal charges including corruption, fraud and violating Immigration and Identification Acts. The corruption charge stems from her arrest in a covert operation after she attempted to bribe a counter-corruption officer with rupees 10,000.

The fraudulent passport of the second Bangladeshi, Fakrul Islam, was issued by Mathebula. Islam arrived in South Africa in 2013 and currently holds a temporary residence visa, which expires in 2024.

“Our continued efforts are bearing fruit. Since we arrested the Pakistani kingpin and 29 other people, including Home Affairs officials in Krugersdorp on March 24, we have been relentless,” said Interior Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi.

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“We are on the trail of those taking part in these plans, and we are cracking down on our corrupt officials who facilitate these outrageous acts.

“These arrests on Friday show that these criminals have nowhere to go. The police and our anti-corruption unit are on their trail. We expect more arrests.

“Any documents found to have been issued in fraudulent schemes will be immediately canceled by the department, rendering them useless to the person holding them,” the minister said.


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