Passport saga: Trial date for driver set

By Thupeyo Muleya

The trial of a cross-border bus driver who was arrested by South African police after he was found with 16 passports of Zimbabweans staying illegally in that country has been set for April 26.

Passports go through the numbering and perforation stage at the National Passport Production Centre in Harare
Passports go through the numbering and perforation stage at the National Passport Production Centre in Harare

Smangaliso Ndlovu (42) was arrested on March 24 soon after he fraudulently facilitated the endorsement of the passports on behalf of his clients.

Some Zimbabweans living illegally in South Africa occasionally give cross-border bus drivers their passports for endorsement at the border to “legalise” their stay in that country.

It is also reported that the police are investigating two immigration officers who are said to have stamped the passports for a fee in the absence of their owners.

Limpopo police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said the man was denied bail yesterday at the Musina Magistrates’ Court and was remanded in custody pending trial.

“The accused was denied bail and remanded in custody pending his trial at the Musina Magistrate Court on April 26,” he said.

“Smangaliso Ndlovu, a Zimbabwean national, was arrested at Beitbridge Border Post, after a scanner detected 16 passports he was carrying in a bag.

“Preliminary investigations reveal that all the passports had different stamps. Ndlovu is facing charges of possession of stolen property.”

Lt-Col Ngoepe said the passport owners were yet to be arrested.

Under South Africa’s immigration laws, Zimbabweans were allowed a stay of 90 days in that country per year.

Immigration officers at the border were reluctant to give Zimbabweans more days.

This has seen some syndicates working with immigration officials exploiting the situation by awarding people 90 days per each single entry for a fee.

Cases of corruption involving officials at the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa area were rife.

In the last 12 month South Africa’s crime busting unit, the Hawks had arrested over 25 people including customs, immigration and police officers on corruption charges. – The Herald