Sunday, August 21, 2011

Foreign ID Fraud

August 17 2011

A table in the main room of the apartment used for producing the fake Passports and ID's Metro Police made a huge Fake Passport bust in Yeoville with all the neccesary paraphanalia and equipment needed

An interrogation of the impact of foreigners on the South African labour market at Parliament yesterday turned into a navel gazing operation in which the Home Affairs Department admitted there was an immense problem of outsiders lining their pockets with social welfare grants.

Home Affairs deputy director-general Jackson Mckay told MPs on the labour portfolio committee that Zimbabwean nationals were known to “cross the border” into South Africa at about that time of the month when social grant payments were made.

They collected their cheques and then ducked back home. This pointed to the problem of foreigners – particularly Zimbabweans – gaining fraudulent access to South African identity documents. The ID scam is understood, however, to also include nationals of Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland.

The department has also been alerted to a case of one businessman who was manufacturing South African documents, including IDs, marriage certificates and passports.

In a written reply to questions, Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni told DA MP Annette Lovemore – who alerted the department to the alleged fraud more than six months ago – that an investigator was looking into the case.

Lovemore told the department that this businessman then used a home affairs official – not yet identified – to place the documentation on the home affairs database, turning the foreigners into “legitimate” South Africans.

The department was unable to give figures relating to the extent of the problem but one insider said it could amount to thousands of people.

This places an extra burden on the already embattled SA Social Security Agency (Sassa), which is paying out 15 million monthly grants and old age pensions. No one could say yesterday to what extent these went to foreigners and hence were fraudulent payments.

Mckay told MPs on the labour portfolio committee that the department had become concerned about the mass exodus of “South Africans” to Zimbabwe at Easter and Christmas each year. Although Zimbabwe obviously had its attractions, he told MPs, the figures – which he did not release – were way above what could be regarded as normal.

These figures related to Zimbabweans who held South Africa identity documents, not Zimbabweans with their own identify documents and passports.

A spot check in December at the Musina border post showed 3 000 Zimbabweans had South African ID books that were fraudulently obtained.

Home Affairs communications officer Gcinile Mabulu referred queries to Sassa deputy director-general Bandile Maqetuka, but he was not available for comment. Mabulu said the agency was taking steps to identify those who were fraudulently gaining access to social grants.

Earlier this month, Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said the department had adjudicated 275 000 applications for work, study, and business permits from “undocumented” Zimbabwean nationals, which had to be submitted by the end of last year.

DA labour spokesman Ian Ollis said he believed there could be between 1.2 million and 4 million Zimbabweans living in exile in South Africa. “It is anybody’s guess,” he said, noting that those who did not apply for permits last year would now be deported.

Labour committee chairman Mamagase Nchabeleng said there was a township at Musina called Nancyfield were the language “on the streets” was Shona – the main language of Zimbabwe.

But he emphasised that in terms of labour law, Zimbabweans – whether legal or illegal – had the same rights as South Africans. This included minimum pay levels.

Referring to illegal use of South African IDs, McKay said lack of integration between the Home Affairs Department’s computer systems allowed people to “reside in different regimes within the department’s databases”.

Sometimes they had different names and enjoyed “multiple benefits”. He gave the example of a Zimbabwean who was called John Smith in South Africa but was “John Ncube” back at home.

McKay noted that it was not only Zimbabweans who were taking advantage of fraudulently obtained documents, but Zimbabweans constituted the overwhelming number of economic refugees.

Of the 66 000 work permits issued by the department in the first three months of this financial year, 59 363 went to Zimbabweans.

Juju and the Jet Plane

21 August, 2011

HIGH LIFE: Julius Malema is said to have taken trips in this Cessna Citation 500, whose owner has won lucrative tenders in Limpopo

Mystery tycoon Mohamed Dada, who is said to be flying ANC Youth League president Julius Malema around the country in his private jet, was awarded lucrative tenders by the Limpopo Roads Department - whose projects are managed by Malema's company.

Malema's Ratanang Trust owns shares in On-Point Engineering, which scored a R52-million deal to act as "project manager" for Limpopo's roads department. This effectively gave it influence over how tenders are awarded.

This week the public protector, Thuli Madonsela, launched a probe into On-Point Engineering as evidence mounted of businessmen giving kickbacks to Malema's company in return for lucrative tenders.

Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela also confirmed that the elite police unit had launched a criminal probe into Malema's dealings.

The Sunday Times obtained documents this week revealing that On-Point arranged for kickbacks from partner companies awarded roads tenders, through highly secretive "back-to-back" agreements.

Among the businessmen close to Malema who concluded lucrative deals with the roads department is Dada, a Limpopo businessman who owns Dada's World of Hardware. He is said to have flown Malema around the country in his private jet, a Cessna Citation 500, worth R18-million.

Several well-placed insiders said Dada's jet had flown Malema from Rand Airport in Germiston to Polokwane, Durban and East London in the past two months.

Trips included a flip to watch the Black Leopards play Orlando Pirates in Polokwane on August 12, and a jaunt to the Durban July horse race.

According to legal experts, any benefit in kind, including flights, could be considered a prosecutable offence under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act.

Dada's pilot, Jared Zeeman, said on Friday that he flew "influential people" around but would not confirm that these included Malema.

"That's confidential information that I can't discuss. I'm just the bus driver," he said.

Despite promising to return calls, Dada has avoided questions from the Sunday Times for two weeks.

The Sunday Times last week revealed that a company known as Sizani Build It had won tenders from the provincial roads department.

It is owned by businessman Steve Bosch, a founder of the ANC Youth League in the province.

Bank statements confirmed that in recent months Bosch had paid R1.2-million to Aurelio Cimato, the Johannesburg architect building Malema's mansion in Sandton.

The bank statements say the R1.2-million was transferred for "J Malema", and smses were sent to Malema confirming payment. Bosch refused to explain the payments, saying they were for "my private business dealings" with Cimato.

This week the Sunday Times obtained documents that uncover secret "back-to-back" agreements between On-Point and partner companies that were awarded roads tenders.

The documents shows that On-Point appears to be invoicing one contractor at least R1-million a month for "consulting fees".

If it is splitting fees with contractors appointed by the roads department to work on specific projects, this would be a conflict of interest.

A "memorandum of understanding" between On-Point and a company called Mpotseng Infrastructure CC details how fees "shall be shared" for eight road improvement projects awarded by the roads department.

"Proceeds from the above projects shall be shared between the parties", with On-Point collecting "all fees for the planning and design stages", while Mpotseng would collect "all fees for the construction stages", the document says.

Under this deal, On-Point would collect R1.6-million, while Mpotseng would collect R684 866.00.  Mpotseng Infrastructure CC's sole director, Arthur Mpotseng Phetla, is listed as a former director of On-Point Engineering, with the same residential address as On-Point's CEO Lesiba Gwangwa.

Gwangwa referred questions to his lawyer Lazarus Ledwaba, who did not return calls or respond to text messages. Mpotseng Phetla's lawyer Mojalefa Motalane said his client declined to discuss the issue. "My client and Lesiba Gwangwa share a very long relationship. We really can't entertain these issues any further."

Although dated this year, the memorandum of understanding is not signed. It says the deal ends "on handover of the projects to the Limpopo Department of Roads and Transport".

Two invoices from On-Point - seen by the Sunday Times - offer further evidence that contractors pay it kickbacks:

On March 22, On-Point invoiced Mpotseng for R1.2-million, and on April 21, Mpotseng was invoiced for a further R1-million by On-Point. The amounts were payable to On-Point's company cheque account held at FNB's Sandton branch.
Both parties were clearly at pains to ensure their special arrangement was kept secret.

A secrecy clause in the contract obliges both parties to "keep confidential the terms and conditions of this (memorandum of understanding) ... whether such information has been marked by the disclosing party as confidential or not".

The memorandum even specifies the names of the parties involved must be kept from the eyes of Treasury officials, who might raise questions about the efficient use of taxpayers' money.

"Any information shared by the service provider with the National Treasury will be shared on a statistical basis and no names will be made known," the memorandum says.

These back-to-back deals are likely to be investigated by Madonsela, as well as how On-Point scored the R51.9-million "project management" contract from Limpopo's government in the first place. Complaints have been laid at Madonsela's office by the Democratic Alliance, COPE and Afriforum.

Malema could not be reached for comment and failed to respond to text messages