Friday, July 19, 2024

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Motsoaledi welcomes 18-year sentence of Pakistani national linked to passport-related crimes

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The Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, has welcomed the sentencing of a Pakistani national, Arfan Ahmed, who was convicted of corruption and bribing Home Affairs officials at the Krugersdorp Home Affairs office for R45 000.

According to the department, Ahmed was apprehended in a sting operation involving the Counter Corruption Branch of Home Affairs, the Hawks, and the Police Crime Intelligence at the Home Affairs office in Krugersdorp in March 2022.

“In the aftermath of his arrest, his home was searched, where multiple passports which were not supposed to be there were found. For this offence, he is serving eight years. As the kingpin of the passport photo swap, the Krugersdorp Regional Court recently sentenced him to another 10 years imprisonment. 

“He is, therefore, serving 18 years for his involvement in the overall passport syndicate activities,” the statement read. 

The department stated that the passport syndicate aims to undermine the country’s laws by fraudulently obtaining South African passports for Pakistani nationals, who did not have a legal right to possess these documents.

Ahmed is said to have been working with some corrupt officials of Home Affairs in a network that spanned Gauteng, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Mpumalanga provinces. 

Meanwhile, Home Affairs said they have already fired the 12 officials who enabled his scheme after the conclusion of their disciplinary processes. 

Motsoaledi said he welcomed the development and was impressed that the courts are sending a strong message that crime does not pay.

“We’ve been waiting patiently for the sentencing of this kingpin for his role in the Krugersdorp passport syndicate. This is an illustration that in our unflinching commitment to uproot fraud, corruption and all sorts of crimes bedevilling our country, we make sure that kingpins and their ‘lieutenants’ face the full might of the law.

“Passport fraud is not a victimless crime. Every single South African is a victim because we are now forced to apply for visas when we visit countries such as the United Kingdom. This was not the case before syndicates like these denigrated our passports. We will, therefore, have no mercy to anybody whatsoever, Home Affairs official or outsider, who gets involved in these dastardly acts. We are doing so to protect the interests of all South Africans,” the Minister said. 

He has since urged all citizens to immediately report such acts of crime to the nearest police station or report them to Home Affairs officials and to refrain from such criminal acts of selling identity.

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