Passport scam: Foreigner insists documents are clean

Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
A Russian man, accused of using fake documents to apply for Zimbabwean passports in Bindura, told the court that he properly acquired the documents. Giving his defence before Harare magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe, Steven Paul Sugden (41) said the documents were genuine and originated from the Registrar-General’s Office. “I applied for a passport properly in a manner prescribed by the law using documents properly acquired, genuine and originating from the Registrar-Generals’s Office,” said Sugden through his lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya.

“There is no way that I could have knowingly defrauded the Registrar General’s office, given that there is a thorough process undertaken before issuance of passports. “I challenge the State to prove that the birth certificate and national identity card are fake.”

Sugden added that he does not work at the Registrar General’s Office and neither does he control the internal processes in their departments. “The Registrar General’s Office has a fool proof online computer system known as the Zimbabwe Population Registration System capable of detecting any anomalies and fraud.

“This is a ploy by my enemies to try and take away my genuine documents.”

Trial will continue on January 21 next year.

The prosecutor Ms Francesca Mukumbiri alleged that Sudgen processed a Zimbabwean birth certificate and a national identity card, which he used to obtain two passports bearing different names.

It is alleged that in April, 2012 Sugden made an application for a passport at the Registrar-General’s office in Bindura.

He allegedly used a fake birth certificate with birth entry number GZI 266/74.

While applying for the same document, it is alleged Sugden also used a fake national identity card bearing registration number 70-0037720-F.

It is the State’s case that acting on the misrepresentation, the Registrar General’s Office issued him with a passport which is valid till 2022.

Using the same fake documents, Sugden allegedly applied for another passport at the Registrar General’s Office in Chinhoyi sometime in December 2012.

He was allegedly issued with a second passport bearing a different name.

When the offence came to light, investigations by the police, with the help of the RG’s Office revealed that the birth entry number used by Sugden belonged to a woman called Sarudzai Kufa.

It was also discovered that the identity card he used belonged to Mr White Jere, it is alleged.

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