South Africa conduit for illegal Indian migration to Britain

February 19th, 2008 - 11:26 am ICT by admin  

By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, Feb 19 (IANS) South Africa has been serving as a conduit for Indian nationals who want to migrate to Britain illegally, with an organised crime ring arranging fake local passports for them, the police have found. The weekly Sunday Times, disclosing details of undercover work by South African and British authorities, said London was now of the view that in future all South Africans will have to obtain visas to enter Britain.

A diary belonging to a Johannesburg-based Indian businessman, Inayat Patel, proved to be the vital clue in the investigations.

The 89 names listed in the diary all turned out to be Indian citizens who had entered Britain using South African passports allegedly issued by corrupt Home Affairs Ministry officials in this country.

Patel and another Indian national, Hasim Mahmad Mulla, face charges of trafficking 186 people from India to Britain using fake South African passports, in contravention of the Immigration Act and the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. They are now out on bail.

Patel and Mulla are alleged to have been involved in an illegal international syndicate that provided transit accommodation and the false documents in both South Africa and Britain.

British agents had covertly removed a notebook from Mulla’s luggage at London’s Heathrow Airport and copied it before replacing it. Subsequent investigations showed that 120 identities listed in the notebook were false, while the information also led authorities to the whereabouts of British accomplices in the scam.

Desperate Indian nationals, mostly from Gujarat, allegedly paid about 100,000 rands ($13,000) each in their bid to get into Britain, living with the large Indian expatriate community here while their documents were arranged.

Among them was Fazila Saleh, who secured entry into Britain with a fake South African passport in the name of Swati Mistry, but was nabbed at Gatwick Airport after she tried to leave for the US with a forged British passport.

A spokesman for the British Serious Organised Crimes Agency told the Sunday Times that English-speaking South African escorts with legal South African documents were often paid to accompany the illegal migrants and pose as friends to ease their way past British immigration authorities.

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