Chief arrested over IDs for illegal immigrants

Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

A prominent chief in Zebediela, outside Lebowakgomo in Limpopo, has been arrested for allegedly assisting illegal foreigners in obtaining South African identity documents.

Chief Lesiba Alpheus Kekana III of Moshate wa-ga Kekana in Moletlane was released on R1000 bail in the Lebowakgomo magistrate's court yesterday.

He was arrested after officials of the Department of Home Affairs discovered that he had written letters to assist illegal foreigners to acquire South African IDs fraudulently.

Kekana has reportedly assisted more than 120 foreigners.

Most of those he assisted were staying in Tlhakano village, an area under his jurisdiction.

According to an investigation by immigration officers Kekana charged at least R1700 for each individual's documents.

Kekana is alleged to have issued letters claiming the foreigners were born in Tlhakano village and that they held permanent residency permits.

The department has confiscated a stamp belonging to the Kekana Traditional Authority, which was used to endorse the letters.

Kekana will appear in court again on July 11.

An official in the department said it was also found that some of the women who were assisted by Kekana received government grants.

"We have arrested two culprits who obtained SA IDs with Kekana's help," the official said.

He said one of the culprits had a Mozambican passport in his possession when he was arrested.

"Though his name is Januario Shumbe, Kekana referred to him in his letter as January Ngobeni," the official said.

Another resident of Zimbabwe, Charles Dube, was referred as Charles Thapelo Chauke.

The two foreigners were refused bail yesterday and will appear again with Kekana. The department hopes to make more arrests.