23 December 2010

South Africa: Senior Official Arrested for Passport Scam

Pretoria — A senior administration clerk at the Akasia Home Affairs offices was arrested on Thursday after she was allegedly linked to a scam in which foreigners got legal South African passports.

The 44-year-old woman, who works with the issuing of passports and marriage documents, was nabbed on fraud and corruption charges.

When the investigation officers served her with the warrant of arrest, she appeared calm and was very cooperative. They took files dating back from 2009, her cell phone and her computer.

Before going to the Akasia offices where the official was apprehended, the anti-corruption task force went to Atteridgeville, west of Tshwane, to look for another official who could not be found.

Earlier in the morning, members of the joint Home Affairs and South African Police Services anti-corruption task force also arrested a retired department official at his house in Soshanguve.

Advocate Connie Moitse, director of investigations at the department's anti-corruption unit, said they confiscated Home Affairs documents at the suspect's house.

On Wednesday, a 42-year-old working at the Makhado Home Affairs office was arrested along with her son. Shortly after arresting the official at the office, the anti-corruption task force proceeded to the official's house and found her 24-year-old son burning documents considered as potential exhibits in the case.

The son is facing a charge of defeating the ends of justice and will all appear in the Pretoria High Court on Wednesday, 29 December.

According to Moitse, all the arrested officials are facing fraud and corruption charges. "Through this operation, we are targeting to arrest all officials allegedly selling illegal passports to foreigners," she said.

Moitse said through the syndicate, illegal Pakistan immigrants were given South African passports, making it easy for them to move in and out of the country.

"We are going to fight this syndicate. We've put in internal measures to detect the operation of this illegal activity and I can assure that we are still going to make more arrests," she said.

Advocate Moitse said they began their investigation in 2008, adding that payments for the documents varied, but some were charged R5 000 per document.

The anti-corruption task force will later this afternoon make more arrests at the Randburg Home Affairs office.

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