The trial of Steven Sugden, a Russian accused of infiltrating the Office of the Registrar-General and having fake passports processed, is set to resume on January 26 at the Harare Magistrates’ Court.
Sugden was arrested by the police’s Serious Fraud Squad and his trial started on December 7.
He is facing two counts of fraud involving criminally acquiring and possessing two travel documents using “fake” identity documentation.
Magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe heard that on December 10 last year, Sugden misrepresented to the Registrar-General’s Office that he was not born in Zimbabwe and had never applied for Zimbabwean citizenship.
But according to the RG’s Office, Sugden reportedly acquired two Zimbabwean passports, one in Bindura and the other in Chinhoyi, using a manufactured birth certificate and a fake national identity card which were then strangely entered into the RG’s database.
Mr Daniel Machinga Gozhora, a senior security officer in the RG’s Office, who represented interests of the Government department in the case as a witness, said the birth certificate used by Sugden and the national identity document got into the system through acts of criminality.
He said officers who connived in the matter had been laid off and arrested.
According to the State outline, Austin Kusokora from the RG’s Office, who is at large, entered the identity card details into the system in 2012, while Elijah Sithole from the same office in Bindura, who received the application form from Sugden, was appearing in court over the matter.
It is the State case that Sugden used a national identity document belonging to Jerry White, an alien, and a birth certificate for Sarudzai Kufa to acquire the passports.
The court heard that the national identity number used was issued when Sugden was about nine years old and hence he did not qualify to hold such a document.
Mr Gozhora, who testified that he has been employed for 20 years in the RG’s Office, said criminals were now using every means to compete with the advancing technology to keep afloat their covert criminal business.
“Your Worship, criminals use all means to penetrate systems,” he told Mr Mahwe.
In the case, the RG’s Office has maintained that the alleged criminality of Sugden was assisted by officers employed by the office and that all those who connived in the act obtained some benefits from him.
Mr Gozhora told the court that normally a passport application goes through a minimum of 30 hands before it is finalised, but in this case, the Sugden’s was only handled by a few conniving hands.
In the RG’s Office records, Sugden’s documents appear, including his photograph, although the birth certificate, national identity card and passports are fake, the court was told.