Saturday, 13 August
The Department of Home Affairs says it is tightening rules around passport applications and collections to stop fraud.
On Thursday, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said fraud linked to South African passports was causing it to lose its integrity.
“In recent months, the South African passport has been in the news for the wrong reasons. Firstly, on 24 March 2022, in our Krugersdorp office, the nation saw us apprehending a Pakistani national and arresting him with some South African citizens and corrupt Home Affairs officials. All these people were working together to defraud the SA passport.
“Secondly and immediately thereafter, the story of ‘Lebogang from Bangladesh‘ made headlines all over the media, including on social media,” he said.
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Motsoaledi added locals implicated in the two corruption cases were out on bail.
“They are on bail; most of them are our citizens. We, unfortunately, can’t disown them. They were outright stupid,” he said.
He said fraud involving the passport had consequences for the country.
“The main one being that the integrity of the South African passport will be put into question, causing many hardships for South African travellers. It is for this reason that this state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue,” he said.
Motsoaledi added that the department was implementing several steps to secure the passport, saying it was changing the rules around passport issuance.
Passports can now only be collected from the office they were applied at and only by the person who applied for them.
He said this was so the document could be activated by the applicants’ fingerprints. Parents who apply for their children will be the only ones allowed to pick up the passport and activate them with their fingerprints.
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“We must strongly warn that any passport collected using whatever method other than the ones announced today will not be activated and hence will be of no use to the holder.
“We are aware that this will inconvenience some frequent travellers and some busy people who might not have time, but we are appealing that everybody has to be prepared to readily pay this price for the integrity of our passports,” he said.
Motsoaledi added the department would not be announcing the internal steps it was taking so as not to alert corrupt officials, saying it would be making an announcement related to the technology soon.
The minister said because of fraud and corruption linked to Pakistani and Bangladeshi travellers’ transit through South Africa, the department would enforce a transit visa on them.
“The decision was informed by recent incidents wherein passengers from the two countries were caught attempting to enter into South Africa illegally by sneaking in through fire hydrant passages at the airport while on the way to the transit lounge to continue to other countries.
“In so doing, they try to evade immigration and other law enforcement officers at the port of entry, thus undermining the security and sovereignty of the state,” he said.
Motsoaledi added transit visas were a way “to stop people from undermining our systems”.
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25 Jun 2021
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