Gigaba blames crooked priests in immigration fraud


Public Enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba apologised to South Africans for last weeks power cuts.

PRETORIA - Crooked priests, corrupt officials and dishonest traditional leaders are among those responsible for many foreigners making their way onto the National Population Register (NPR), Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Sunday.

Briefing the media in Pretoria, he told reporters his department&39;s late registration of birth programme -- which after six years, will come to a close on December 31 next year -- had created challenges.

While it had certainly allowed large numbers of South Africans, who had not been registered at birth, access to government services, it had also "created an avenue" for others to get their names onto the NPR.

"[It] led to many people who do not deserve South African citizenship being able to bribe their way onto the NPR, and therefore pollute the register.

"Some priests... would issue [fraudulent] baptismal certificates, some tradition leaders... would write fraudulent letters, confirming the citizenship of certain people... ," he said.

They had done so "by hook and crook", knowing for a fact that these people were not South African, and should not have been afforded an opportunity to claim citizenship, he said.

Entry on the system is the basic requirement allowing people to claim government benefits, and make application for an ID document and passport.

Responding to a question Gigaba said he could not estimate how many people were fraudulently entered onto the NPR.

However, within "the next few weeks" government would be conducting an audit of the register.

"There are a number of people who are going to be eliminated from the register, because they don&39;t deserve to be there," he warned.

The audit process was aimed at restoring the integrity of South Africa&39;s national population register.

"The audit will [show] how many people have entered the NPR fraudulently, and we will take necessary legal action in cases like these, including against any official who might be found to have connived in the process of offering fraudulent citizenship."

Earlier, he made a call for all new-born children to be registered at health facilities within 30 days of their birth.

He said the late birth registration programme would be discontinued from the end of next year, and late registration -- while still possible --would become much more difficult from 2016 onwards, particularly for adults, with lots of questions being asked.

"We will set up screening committees. It will be a strenuous [process] for you to make it. Nobody will be precluded, but the screening will be more rigorous post 2015."

Responding to another question, Gigaba said he could not estimate the size of the current late registration backlog

"We cannot estimate how many people will come forward between now and the end of 2015."

Paid Content