Illegal foreigner ran Home Affairs branch better than all South Africans, issued 400 fake passports

Illegal foreigner ran Home Affairs branch better than all South Africans, issued 400 fake passports

The alleged ringleader behind the syndicate issuing fraudulent passports to foreigners has been under the police radar for years.

Warrant Officer Veerasamy Ponnen told the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court he had been investigating Afran Ahmed, 39, for the past three to four years. Ahmed appeared in court with 26 other men.

Ponnen said Ahmed, who was caught red-handed inside a Home Affairs branch in Krugersdorp on 24 March, was a “smart and a cynical person”.

He claimed that Ahmed possessed a Pakistani passport and an asylum document. Ahmed had allegedly processed 400 fraudulent passports, he said.

“He fraudulently obtained a marriage certificate, asylum papers, tourist and student visas. His wife was also in possession of a tourist visa.”

Ponnen said Ahmed personally issued fraudulent passports to foreigners in six provinces – excluding North West, Free State and the Northern Cape.

“He entered Home Affairs branches. He brought vulnerable South Africans, who would sell their identity numbers to foreigners. Those foreigners would later be issued South African passports. The passports were later collected at a different branch by Ahmed. He targeted South Africans who didn’t possess passports.”

UNDERCOVER AGENT

Ahmed was arrested with the assistance of an undercover police agent. The agent pretended to be a Home Affairs official.

“He approached our agent and talked like a mafia. He explained to her (agent) how he operated. Our agent built trust with him. Ahmed even promised to buy her a house or a car if she needed one. He even promised to pay her R5 000 for every passport he would issue to a foreigner. He knew how to run a Home Affairs branch better than Home Affairs officials. It was not a coincidence that he was arrested inside a Home Affairs office. We thoroughly monitored him before we stopped him.

“We have audio and video evidence where he was interacting with our agent. He paid our agent R45 000 cash as a bribe. Another R5 000 would be paid after processing the passports.”

At the time of his arrest, Ahmed had just processed five passports. He was caught red-handed in the company of 26 people, including Somalian and South African men.

Ponnen testified that Ahmed targeted vulnerable and unemployed South Africans, who he paid R500 each for providing their identity numbers.

“He charged foreigners R4 500 as a deposit. A balance of R1 500 would be paid after a South African passport had been issued. The driver who brought foreigners and South Africans to Home Affairs branches was paid R800 per trip.”

Ponnen said Ahmed owned four lucrative cellphone shops.

He added that they would soon arrest Home Affairs officials who colluded with Ahmed.

Ponnen said he had received complaints from various consulates, including the US, about non-South Africans possessing South African passports.

The hearing continues on Wednesday.


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