Home affairs official arrested for 'selling birth certificates'

28 August 2020 - 12:25
By Mpho Sibanyoni
Suspicions about the issuing of birth certificates led to an investigation, which resulted in the arrest of the home affairs official.
Image: 123RF/Nirat Makjantuk Suspicions about the issuing of birth certificates led to an investigation, which resulted in the arrest of the home affairs official.

Three Home Affairs officials were this week arrested for allegedly issuing fraudulent identity documents to foreign nationals.

The officials made a brief court appearance on Thursday after they were nabbed in two separate operations in Emalahleni and Pretoria.

They are out on bail after being charged with corruption and contravention of the Immigration Act.

This was confirmed by home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi in a media statement.

"In one operation, Mr Edwell Muntu Monareng, a mobile operator from the Emalahleni Home Affairs Office in Mpumalanga, was arrested by the Hawks (on Wednesday) and appeared in court (on Thursday) for corruption.

"He was arrested in a sting operation involving the Hawks, SAPS Crime Intelligence and the Department of Home Affairs Counter Corruption. He was arrested for paying a bribe of R13 000 to a Home Affairs Counter Corruption officer who was investigating him for birth certificate fraud. The bribe was to make the fraud charge disappear. The Counter Corruption officers reported the attempted bribe and a sting operation was arranged to arrest Mr Monareng when he paid the bribe," said Motsoaledi.

Home Affairs official Muntu Monareng has been arrested, charged with corruption.
Image: Supplied / Hawks Home Affairs official Muntu Monareng has been arrested, charged with corruption.

Monareng was being investigated by a Home Affairs Counter Corruption official for fraudulently registering a Pakistani national and issuing him with a birth certificate.

"Mr Monareng became a focus of the investigation after a member of the South African Police Service based at the King Shaka International Airport questioned a Pakistani national who was preparing to travel on a South African passport. The Pakistani national looked older than the age recorded in the fraudulent passport.

"Upon further investigation, they found his Pakistani passport with a different date of birth and surname. The Pakistani national was arrested and charged with possession of a fraudulent SA passport and for contravention of the Immigration Act. The police also referred the matter to Home Affairs Counter Corruption. Using technology-enabled security features built into the system, an internal Home Affairs investigation established that Mr Monareng had registered the Pakistani’s birth and issued a birth certificate. This birth certificate was later used to apply for the passport at the Empangeni Home Affairs office in KwaZulu-Natal."

The probe into the activities of Monareng also flagged another 131 transactions which are suspected to be fraudulent which he allegedly completed between April 2018 and January 2019.

"The Department is continuing with the investigation into the 131 suspected cases and will be initiating a disciplinary process against Mr Monareng."

Monareng appeared in court today and was released on a R3 000 bail. He is scheduled to reappear in court on 09 October, 2020.

In a separate operation, law enforcement arrested Mr Chinas Mohlolo, a former Home Affairs Supervisor who left the Department in 30 September 2019, Mr Percy Mabena, an administrative officer at the Home Affairs office in Pretoria and two Zimbabwean nationals Thubelihle Nyathi and Khumbulani Moyo.

The Home Affairs Counter Corruption unit initiated an investigation after an official reported that Mohlolo had allegedly demanded the login details of the junior official.

"He proceeded to change the records of Mr Moyo to Mr Callos Mazibuko with a South African ID. After Mr Moyo was arrested, he identified Mr Nyathi, who is not a Home Affairs official, as the person who introduced him to Mr Mabena. It is alleged that the Mr Mabena liaised with Mr Mohlolo to have the records of Mr Moyo fraudulently altered," Motsoaledi.

The department is investigating transactions linked to both Mabena and Mohlolo. Mabena is also facing a disciplinary hearing.

All four accused appeared at Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court on fraud and corruption charges. They will face additional charges of contravening the Immigration Act, Identity Act and the Birth, Death Registration Act.

Mabena and Mohlolo R2 000 bail each while Nyathi and Moyo were not granted bail and they remain in police custody.

They are scheduled to appear at the same court on September 7.

“I am encouraged that there are officials at Home Affairs and in the police who reported and acted swiftly to root out corruption. We will continue to monitor all reported cases to ensure that perpetrators and beneficiaries of fraudulent activities are brought to justice and sent to jail where they belong,” said Minister Motsoaledi.

“We are clearly benefitting from introducing technology based security features in our processes. It is only when people report suspected wrongdoing that we will turn the tide against maladministration, fraud and corruption. I continue to support the efforts of law enforcement agencies in ensuring that all forms of maladministration are rooted out of the Department of Home Affairs,” said Motsoaledi.