27 October 2017

Mozambique: Migration Official Arrested for Parallel Passport Scam

Maputo — The Mozambican police have arrested an official of the National Immigration Service (SENAMI), who was found in possession of 78 applications for passports.

Cited by the independent television station STV, SENAMI spokesperson Cira Fernandes said the official (whose name has not been revealed) was arrested on a Maputo street. In addition to the passport applications, she was carrying 31 passport receipts, 44 identity cards and an emergency travel certificate.

She was travelling in a tricycle-taxi (known as a txopela) and was heading towards the installations in downtown Maputo where immigration documents are produced. She was presumably going there to have the passports produced illegally. Of the 78 passport applications, ten were found on her person and the other 68 were in the hands of the txopela driver.

Fernandes said this was a scheme for the parallel production of travel documents. SENAMI has appropriate mechanisms for processing passport applications, which are properly registered and dispatched by accredited persons, not by txopela.

The official arrested does not even work for the SENAMI department that handles passports, but for its Department of Studies and Planning.

Both the SENAMI official and the txopela driver have been arrested and will stand trial. Fernandes said they have both been granted bail and so will await their trial in freedom.

At her weekly press briefing, Fernandes said that between January and September SENAMI denied entry to the country of 1,863 foreign citizens. This is a reduction of about 13 per cent on the number of 2,149 who were denied entry in the same period of 2016.

868 of the foreigners were turned away because they had forged entry visas in their passports. 230 had no travel document at all, and 492 either had no visa or could not explain what they intended to do in the country.

Most (75 per cent) attempted to enter the country via Maputo International Airport. 13 per cent were stopped at Pemba airport in the norgthern province of Cabo Delgado, and four per cent at Nampula airport.

626 of those turned away (34 per cent) were Ethiopian citizens, 236 (13 per cent) were Bangladeshis, and 167 (nine per cent) were Malawians.

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