According to South African media reports, the department of Home Affairs is confiscating about 80 fraudulently acquired passports at Beitbridge Border Post daily, most of them from Zimbabweans.
The spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs, Ms Siobhan McCarthy was yesterday quoted in the South African media as saying 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 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.
“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.
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.
When Chronicle visited the border post yesterday, there was a long winding queue of travellers who were undergoing a screening process by South African Home Affairs officials manning the entry gate.
Meanwhile, some locals in Beitbridge are now cashing in on the South African blitz by facilitating those denied entry at the border to illegally cross the border through undesignated entry points along the Limpopo River.
A member of the syndicate involved in facilitating border jumping, who only identified himself as Muunga said: "We are making a lot of money out of this unfortunate situation at the border and we are assisting those who are stranded to cross into South Africa and we charge between R300 and R500 per individual.
"We normally share the money with our friends who are in the South African army patrolling the border area."
He said on a busy day they rake in about R8 000.