Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

A former home affairs employee, Nhlanhla Mathebula, was handed a 10-year prison sentence on Thursday for his involvement in processing passports for illegal immigrants. The Nelspruit Specialised Commercial Crimes Court had previously found Mathebula, aged 39 and stationed in White River, guilty on 12 counts of corruption and 13 counts of violating the Immigration Act.

In May 2021, Mathebula unlawfully processed passport applications for undocumented immigrants by substituting the photos of South African citizens with those of foreign nationals. These deceptive applications were frequently handled during late-night hours or even in the early morning. For his illicit services, he charged fees ranging from R1,000 to R5,000 per application.

According to Monica Nyuswa, the spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, Mathebula’s arrest resulted from one of his clients mistaking him for a home affairs colleague who sought assistance in obtaining a fraudulent passport.

Despite initially pleading not guilty, Mathebula was later compelled to make admissions during the court proceedings, effectively acknowledging his guilt. The court ordered that the gratification money received by Mathebula during the commission of these crimes be reclaimed from his pension fund and transferred to the Criminal Assets Recovery Account. Furthermore, the court ruled that the passports he issued would be forfeited to the state.

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