The number of arrested suspects in the passport scam has risen to 29 with the arrest of more people as additional details of the elaborate scam emerge.
Spokesperson for the minister of home affairs recounted how on Thursday night authorities pounced on the unsuspecting perpetrators at the Home Affairs office in Krugersdorp.
The swoop was carried out by a multi-disciplinary operation involving the Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation, Cash In-Transit Task Team, Department of Home Affairs’ Anti-Corruption, and the Johannesburg Central Tactical Response Team.
They found the suspects processing information and photos using the Home Affairs system to fraudulently create South African passports.
The alleged ringleader used legitimate SA identity numbers and fingerprints to manipulate the system before attaching photos of foreign nationals.
Locals were paid R500 to allow the scammers to use their identity document details. Foreign nationals, mostly Pakistanis, paid as much as R40 000 for a passport.
Upon searching the premises, authorities found about R45 000 in cash wrapped in a black plastic bag.
“The investigation team also seized three White Toyota Fortuners allegedly used as a transport mode for the suspects to be collected from Eldorado Pak and Cosmo City,” he said.
“Further investigation led the team to the alleged kingpin’s house at Northcliff in Randburg where his wife and more fraudulent passports were found.
“She was also arrested and charged for possession of suspected fraudulent documents. Investigation continues and outstanding suspects are sought.”
The suspects aged between 42 and 19 are expected to appear in the Krugersdorp and Randburg Magistrates’ courts on Monday.
They are facing charges of fraud, corruption, contravention of the Immigration Act, and possession of suspected fraudulent documents.