Fake immigration stamps: Man fined $40 000
Thupeyo Muleya–Beitbridge Bureau
One of the two men who were at the weekend arrested by the Department of Immigration’s regional compliance unit for using four fake date stamps to clear travellers between South Africa and Zimbabwe was yesterday fined $40 000 by a Beitbridge Magistrate court.
Two stamps were replicas of those used in South Africa, while two others were an imitation of Zimbabwe’s immigration department.
Lovemore Mpofu (33) of Dulivhadzimu suburb was convicted on his own plea of guilty to contravening a section Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9.23 when he appeared before better resident magistrate, Mr Takudzwa Gwazemba.
The man who was represented by Mr Jabulani Mzinyathi of Garikayi and Partners is part of a syndicate using fake stamps to clear goods and people across the border.
Prior to his arrest, Mpofu and his associates have been running a fake immigration office closer to the Beitbridge Border since the beginning of the year, attending to call-in clients only.
They were busted on Sunday mid-morning during a sting operation by immigration officials.
In default of paying the fine, Mpofu risks imprisonment for 30 days.
The four fake immigration stamps were fortified to the State as part of the sentence while four months were conditionally suspended for five years.
Prosecuting, Mr Pithy Magumula said on August 14 this year, the department of immigration’s regional compliance unit received information about Mpofu’s ‘immigration office’ in Beitbridge.
They then launched a sting operation at his place of residence at around 1100 hours. The team lured him as potential call-in clients who had overstayed and needed his services.
Upon arrival at his house, the team identified themselves in the company of some police officers and arrested the man after recovering four fake immigration stamps and a stamps pad.
The State said two stamps were replicas of those used in South Africa, while two others were an imitation of Zimbabwe’s Department of Immigration.
Of late there has been a surge in syndicates operating fake immigration offices at the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
More than 15 people have been arrested by immigration authorities at the Beitbridge Border Post on similar charges in the last 12 months.
Under the current immigration regulations, South Africans are allowed 30 days to stay in Zimbabwe at every entry.
However, those using fake documents or reluctant to renew their stay engage the services of the fake immigration officers. In South Africa, Zimbabweans are allowed an entry not exceeding 90 days annually. As a result, many are resorting to bogus officials to extend their stay. They are charged any fee starting from R100 depending on each “traveller’s” circumstances