Maputo — Mozambique's Central Office for the Fight against Corruption (GCCC) has arrested nine out of 48 officials accused of mismanagement of State funds in the country's consulate in the city of Nelspruit, in South Africa.
A GCCC press release issued on Wednesday said that those accused include public officials from the Immigration Office, from Mozambique's diplomatic and consular missions and others without any contractual relationship with the Mozambican State.
An investigation by the GCCC has concluded that the accused officials benefited from large sums in illicit collection when issuing entry visas into Mozambique. They are accused of crimes such as embezzlement, corruption, abuse of office, forgery, aiding illegal immigration and conspiracy.
Initially, the criminal investigation focused on the Nelspruit consulate but then extended to other diplomatic and consular missions such as the High Commission in Pretoria, and the Consulates in Johannesburg and in Durban.
Some of the officials used State funds to make undue payments in restaurants and shops, and for medical care and travel expenses. Others issued entry visas to foreigners without making the necessary checks of the applicants' backgrounds.
The officials did not check relevant records such as the place of origin and previous migratory movements of the travellers, their criminal records, the authenticity of the documents used for visa purposes, and even whether the signature on the application form was the same as that on the applicant's passport.
The scheme involved people without any contractual relationship with the Mozambican State. These were middlemen who arranged Mozambican visas illicitly for foreigners, mainly Chinese and Bangladeshis.
"They gathered the passports, documents and the money that were later sent to Mozambique's diplomatic missions in South Africa through the passenger buses to South Africa, and in certain situations visas were issued in less than 24 hours," stated the GCCC release.