Editorials 16.5.2017 05:15 am

Fake passports would be a better focus for intelligence spooks

South African Passport stock image. Picture: Zululand Observer.

South African Passport stock image. Picture: Zululand Observer.

Instead of worrying about fake ‘plots’ by finance ministers.

The shock revelation that an al-Shabaab courier had been intercepted in Tanzania carrying 15 “clean” South African passports is of major concern in any number of quarters.

Especially as a passport was understood to contain a photograph of international terror fugitive Samantha Braithwaite, the much-reviled “White Widow”.

The spotlight must immediately turn on the department of home affairs – the heavily criticised area of government tasked with issuing travel documents.

The seized passports are understood to have valid numbers and are all current, begging the question of what level the undoubted corruption reached to enable this to happen.

It also tends to take the edge off the existing urban myth, debunked by the department, that it was possible to fly into OR Tambo on one passport in the morning, cough up the required bribe to officials, before flying out as a passport-carrying South African that evening.

The scandalous system of passports for cash is nothing new.

It is the major factor in Britain cancelling a visa-free entry to their country for South Africans and putting this country on an international watchlist of countries to be carefully monitored.

Selling travel documents is a hugely corrupt underhand trade, which we submit could quite readily be construed as treasonous to this country’s sovereignty.

It must be added that the intelligence organs of the state must also be questioned over their competence.

An area as sensitive as this is surely of far more importance to the government than worrying whether to recall a Cabinet minister on trumped-up allegations.

That effects of that level of ‘’intelligence gathering” has already been felt in our battered economy and resounds across the national psyche.

Our intelligence forces must be urgently tasked to uncover the real causes behind the issuing of these dubiously obtained documents and how they fell into soiled hands.

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