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Motsoaledi commends passport syndicate bust

Home Affairs Minister, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi has commended the officials involved in the bust of a passport syndicate in Krugersdorp.

Motsoaledi was speaking at the Krugersdorp syndicate takedown operation last night, where a kingpin and two other officials from the department were arrested.

This also includes 13 foreign nationals and 13 South Africans.

Motsoaledi explained that what the syndicate was doing is referred to as photo swapping or using the details of a South African to apply for a passport, and then interfering with the system to insert a picture of a foreign national, instead of a South African.

Motsoaledi said he is proud of the vigilant and dedicated employees of Home Affairs and partner law enforcement agencies.

“These are the officers who are demonstrating their patriotism through their deeds, not just words.

“Let me remind South Africans and the rogue employees in Home Affairs that our fight against fraud and corruption, at all levels, is relentless and ferocious. It is a war we are determined not to lose.

“We identified the kingpin after an alert immigration officer picked up anomalies with two passports of people who wanted to leave the country via the Cape Town International Airport. That official handed over the two people and their passports to the police,” he said.

Motsoaledi said the police are working with the department’s Counter-Corruption Branch to get to the bottom of fraud and corruption in the department.

“Their investigations led them to this kingpin who has businesses in Gauteng. They then spent some time observing how this syndicate operated,” he said.

The modus operandi is that the kingpin recruits foreign nationals, mostly Pakistanis, who want to acquire South African passports, while not being South African.

Once the kingpin has a certain number, he then tasks his runner to recruit South Africans who have never acquired passports before. Once the number of foreign nationals and South Africans match, the kingpin then activates his lieutenants who then secure an office from where they conduct their illicit business.

“It is alleged that the kingpin bought cars for his lieutenants, presumably to enable them to be at his disposal, day and night. In other words, the lieutenants were always available to the kingpin whenever he needed them,” Motsoaledi said.

It is also alleged that South Africans were recruited for as little as R500, plus they were promised jobs overseas which, of course, never materialised.

The lieutenants are said to have pocketed between R5 000 and R10 000 per passport, while the kingpin allegedly charged anything from R40 000 a passport to any foreign national who wanted to acquire passports they don’t qualify for.

“I am confident that the law enforcement officers have done a good job. Their investigations benefitted from the fingerprint-enabled authentication of transactions, which was introduced to precisely fight corruption,” the Minister said.

Motsoaledi assured South Africans that there is going to be no space for rogue elements in the Department of Home Affairs.

“I am saying this fully aware that our society absolutely hates corruption and they do not want to see it happening in their country.

“I detest corruption. Our fight against corruption would not be as successful if we did not receive tip-offs from members of the public about acts of corruption conducted by some of our officials they interact with. I want to reassure the patriots who tip us off on acts of malfeasance that we follow each tip and act decisively.

“At times, it may appear that nothing is happing but patriots should rest assured that we work very hard behind the scenes to ensure that we build watertight cases that meet the requirement of proof beyond any reasonable doubt,” Motsoaledi said. –

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