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Immigration officer who tried to buy 5,000 permits gets 15 years in jail

An immigration officer and an Ethiopian who tried to set up a huge illegal-permit operation were each sentenced to 15 years behind bars.
An immigration officer and an Ethiopian who tried to set up a huge illegal-permit operation were each sentenced to 15 years behind bars.
Image: belchonock/123rf.com

An immigration officer who paid R150,000 to get 5,000 blank permits for fraudulent use by foreign nationals has been sentenced to 15 years in jail, the home affairs department said on Wednesday.

The immigration officer, Nasi Seqola, was nabbed alongside an Ethiopian national who was working with her. The Ethiopian, Biru Yosef Alem, was in possession of a permanent residence permit at the time of his arrest. This has since been revoked.

Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Wednesday applauded the arrest of Alem and Seqola, saying their arrests put the brakes on what would have been a huge crime.

Explaining how the two were caught, the department said Seqola tried to recruit an official from Government Printing Works (GPW) to print 5,000 blank permits in return for R150 000.

The official, however, reported Seqola to the counter-corruption branch which set up a sting operation.

“The 5,000 permits were printed by GPW and handed over to law-enforcement officers. The permits were used in a sting and Ms Seqola paid the R150,000. Then the law-enforcement officers moved in and took the cash and the permits. The permits were returned to GPW. This avoided what could have been a catastrophe in terms of permitting,” the department said.

Explaining how the plot would have worked, the department said Alem would have recruited foreigners who did not qualify for South Africans permits; bring them to Seqola who would have completed a fraudulent permit and then used her corrupt contacts at home affairs to insert such a permit into the data base.

Seqola and Alem were convicted in October 2021 but were sentenced on Monday.

Motsoaledi said he believed the sentence suited the crime.

“This sentence reflects the severity of the crime. People who do not respect the country’s immigration laws must face the full might of the law,” said Motsoaledi. “We congratulate the patriotic GPW official who resisted huge amounts of money and remained honest to his job and his country.”  

Alem will be deported once he has served his time.


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