Ricochet News

Minister in hot water for transporting Burundian national with fake passport

By Charl Bosch - May 23, 2016
Minister in hot water for transporting Burundian national with fake passport

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to open an interdict against Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, amidst weekend reports that she brought a Burundian woman into the country on a false passport.

According to the Sunday Times, Mapisa-Nqakula, when faced with the allegations, admitted she flew Michelle Wege on a South African Air Force jet back to the Waterkloof Air Force Base in January 2014, under the a fake Congolese name.

“There was nothing wrong in giving Michelle a lift on the air force plane. My sole intention was to save her from abuse, and give her education and love,” Mapisa-Nqakula told the paper from her Johannesburg home.

The Minister said she first met Wege, who had accompanied her sister, former Burundian Deputy Ambassador Nosithembele Mapisa, on a family visit to Johannesburg a year before, and that she became touched when hearing about her story of growing up in an abusive home.

It has been reported that Nosithembele was later suspended form her position after being found to have obtained the fake documents. The paper states that Wege fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but was arrested after authorities became suspicious at her being unable to speak French or any tribal languages.

Mapisa-Nqakula then reportedly personally asked the Congolese ambassador to issue a visa for Wege, who was picked-up when she visited the DRC. The paper states that Wege then accompanied the Minister to a reported high-level African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, before the air force jet dropped her off at Waterkloof from where she was taken to Mapisa-Nqakula’s house.

In a statement, DA Shadow Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Kobus Marais, said Mapisa-Nqakula flouted the provisions of her office and country’s immigration act, and that action needs to be taken against her.

“The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has a duty to prosecute the Minister for violating Section 49 (2) of the Immigration Act,” Marias said.

“Failing which the NPA head, Adv. Shaun Abrahams, must make public the record of decision not to prosecute [her]. ANC government officials have for too long used the public coffers for personal enrichment”.

Mapisa-Nqakula however stated she does not regret her actions and would be prepared to “do it again”.