Ethiopian National Sent To Jail For 15 Years For His Role In SA Permit Scam

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An Ethiopian has been jailed for 15 years for his role in a scam to unlawfully print official home affairs permits to sell to desperate foreign nationals wanting to live in South Africa.

The Pretoria Magistrate’s Court this week sentenced immigration practitioner Nasi Seqola and her accomplice, Biru Yosef Alem an Ethiopian national, to 15 years behind bars without an option of a fine.

Alem, who was sent to prison on Monday, will be deported after he serves his sentence.

The pair – Seqola and Alem – ran into trouble when a diligent employee at Government Printing Works (GPW) turned down a huge bribe of R150 000 to unlawfully print official home affairs permit documents.

The GPW employee reported Seqola to the home affairs counter corruption branch.

Together with other law enforcement officials, the counter corruption branch set up the sting operation. 

As part of the sting operation, 5 000 blank permits requested by Seqola were printed by the GPW.

When Seqola handed over the R150 000, law enforcement officers moved in and arrested her.

Investigations revealed that the scam involved Alem.

The Ethiopian, who is in South Africa on a resident permit, was expected to find foreign nationals in need of permits.

The foiled plan was for the pair to sell the 5 000 permits to desperate foreign nationals wanting to live in South Africa.

Seqola, an independent immigration practitioner, had lined up contacts at home affairs to insert the fraudulently issued permits into the official database. 

Reacting on Wednesday to the sentence Home Affairs Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi said: “We congratulate the patriotic GPW official who resisted huge amounts of money and remained honest to his job and his country”.

Dr. Motsoaledi added: “This sentence reflects the severity of the crime. People who do not respect the country’s immigration laws must face the full might of the law”. 

At the time of publishing this article, The Bulrushes could not establish if the accused pair intended to appeal their sentence.