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By Thato Mahlangu

A sting operation by the police led to the arrest of a corrupt official of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) on 9 January 2020.

Home affairs minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said in a statement he welcomed the arrest of immigration official Sam Langa who was arrested for demanding a bribe from a foreign businessman.

“He demanded over R100 000 from a foreign businessman who was in South Africa illegally to ensure that the businessman and other foreign [nationals] were not deported,” explained the minister.

Motsoaledi said Langa, who is currently in police custody, faces charges of corruption, extortion and defeating the ends of justice.

DHA promises to act against the corrupt official

“We shall spare no effort in rooting out corruption and malfeasance in all its forms in the department. The department will work with the police and all law enforcement agencies to ensure that transgressors face the full might of the law,” said Motsoaledi.

According to the statement, the minister bemoaned the fact that Langa is actually a law enforcement officer whose job is to make sure that the law is upheld, adhered to and respected.

“This fact alone aggravates the alleged transgressions of Langa,” said Motsoaledi, adding that the public should report any offences of corruption and offences relating to corrupt activities that they suspect is happening to the police.

More corruption exposed

In October last year Barbara Dale-Jones described her experience at the Beit Bridge border post, where hundreds of Zimbabweans and South Africans experienced only frustration, corruption and prejudice at the hands of Home Affairs officials.

Dale-Jones who had travelled through Beit Bridge from South Africa to Zimbabwe, said she saw people in a passage offering those who would want to skip the long queues the chance to do so, at a fee which is in US dollars.

Dale-Jones believes that Beit Bridge is filled with corruption and is an ailing system.

“Beit Bridge is evidently straining under the pressure of vast numbers of migrants coming through the border. Instead of having an efficient system in place – with clear procedures and rules that can cope with these challenges – the South African Department of Home Affairs is running a system that is not only uncaring but also corrupt, judging by the way touts are able to work the system,” Dale-Jones wrote.

CW works hard to expose home affairs corruption

These accounts of corruption in the DHA are nothing new. It has long been known that the department is riddled with incompetence and malfeasance. However, measures to stamp out the corruption have been few and far between.

Corruption Watch has also conducted extensive research and held many engagements around corruption in the DHA in relation to asylum and refugee applications.

A report detailing our work with Project Lokisa (“Let’s fix it”) was launched on 1 June 2015. With other NGOs, we worked to gather reports of corruption in the Gauteng area, specifically related to refugees and asylum seekers.

The final report is available on our website. It features the outcomes of our investigations, data and statistics relating to corruption affecting refugees and asylum seekers, interviews with our whistle-blowers, and recommendations on how to address corruption in this space.