An average of 80 people a day arrested with fake SA passports

BEIT BRIDGE,- Immigration officials at Beitbridge are arresting an average 80 people a day, mostly Zimbabweans, at the border post for using South African fake passports.

A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs, Siobhan McCarthy said they had intensified the investigations in which they were mainly targeting Beitbridge and Lebombo border posts with Mozambique, which are reportedly the busiest entry points.

“We are getting about 80 dubious South African passports a day at Beitbridge Border Post alone,” she said.

Those suspected of travelling on illegally acquired travel documents had their passports taken while those allowed to proceed were given a slip with a date on which to present themselves for an interview at Home Affairs’ head offices in Pretoria.

“We have stationed more officers on our borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe and we have intensified checks at those border posts in which we continue to confiscate dozens of South African passports suspected to have been fraudulently obtained with the help of corrupt officials from the department.

We have to do further investigations to establish how people got fraudulent South African passports,” she said.

However, Ms McCarthy said while the Home Affairs department routinely launched major operations at the main border posts during Christmas and Easter, this time officials were coming across an unusually large number of dubious South African passports at the Beitbridge Border Post.

Ms McCarthy said such people had to be assumed to be South African citizens until proven otherwise.

The blitz is part of that government’s turnaround strategy to deal with corruption, which has rocked its Home Affairs department. The Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has since suspended 59 officials from her department after they were implicated in the fraudulent registration of foreigners, mainly from Pakistan.

Scores of Zimbabweans working in South Africa commonly known as injiva, who had travelled home for the festive season, were left stranded at Beitbridge Border Post after having been denied entry into South Africa for allegedly using fraudulently acquired passports.

Some had to resort to border jumping while others opted to use the Botswana- South Africa route.