By Thupeyo Muleya
A ZIMBABWEAN man was yesterday jailed for six years in South Africa for opening an illegal immigration office at Beitbridge Border Post.
Duncan Danda (29) was arrested at his base within the border’s taxi rank on January 3 while stamping passports for foreigners and some Zimbabweans.
He was convicted by a Musina magistrate on two counts of contravening a section of that country’s Immigration Act.
For the first count he was sentenced to six years imprisonment which were set aside for five years.
On the second count, he was fined R10 000 and risks being imprisoned for 12 months if he defaults.
Danda is accused of giving prospective travellers up to 90 days to stay in South Africa.
Under South Africa’s immigration laws, Zimbabweans are not allowed to stay for more than 90 days in that country per year.
Danda exploited failure by some locals to get enough time to stay in South Africa by awarding people more than 90 days per each single entry for a fee.
Hawks spokesperson for Limpopo province Captain Matimba Maluleke welcomed the sentence saying it was deterrent enough to those in the same trade.
“We welcome the sentence and hope it will serve as a deterrent to all those who want to play hide and seek with the law.
“We acted swiftly on information about a person who had opened a one stop Home Affairs office in the heart of the border. He was stamping passports of foreign nationals at the Beitbridge taxi rank,” he said.
Captain Maluleke said they confiscated among other things, Department of Home Affairs immigration stamps and an undisclosed amount of United States dollars, which they believe had been paid to him by his clients.
He said there was suspicion that Danda was part of a syndicate.
“We strongly suspect that he was not working alone when we look at a scenario where foreigners were able to exit and return to the country through his underhand craft,” said Capt Maluleke.
In the last eight months, 18 people were arrested at the Beitbridge Border Post on charges of fraud and corruption.
In May last year, 15 people including police and immigration officers as well as customs clearing agents were arrested on allegations of facilitating illegal migration among other underhand deals at Beitbridge Border Post. The Chronicle