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South Africa immigration sends back 67 Pakistanis following bold sting operation

Pakistani nationals provided conflicting evidence to South African immigration authorities in Johannesburg like giving names of non-existent hotels, names of alleged relatives, some of whom did not even exist (Image courtesy: Twitter/@HomeAffairsSA)

As many as 67 Pakistani nationals were denied entry into South Africa on Sunday and sent back home “at their own cost” after failing to comply with the immigration laws of the country.

The South African Home Ministry has revealed that these Pakistanis – in a flight of 268 passengers that departed for South Africa from Dubai – were held at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport in the early hours of August 13.

All of them have been sent back to Pakistan at their own cost after they failed the immigration test, which included questions on how long their visas entitled them to be in the country.

“This is a result of a sting operation that was put together after observing certain trends that were suspicious and did not make sense,” said South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi while welcoming Sunday morning’s interception of Pakistani nationals.

The country is already on a high alert due to the forthcoming 15th BRICS Summit which is scheduled to be held in Johannesburg from August 22 to 24. It is going to be the first in-person gathering of BRICS leaders in three years that will be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Presidents of Brazil, China and host South Africa.

“They were interviewed by Immigration Officers and they were asked about where they going and about the purpose of being in South Africa and where they were going to stay given that they were coming here for the first time. They provided conflicting evidence like giving names of non-existent hotels, names of alleged relatives, some of whom did not even exist,” said Minister Motsoaledi.

A team comprising of South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs Counter Corruption Branch, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), State Security Agency and the Border Management Authority (BMA) was put together to conduct the sting.

“Essentially, these people wanted to come to South Africa but were unable to explain where they were going and for what reason. There is no other way. They have to return to their home country. We can’t allow such people to enter the country,” Motsoaledi made it clear.

The South African agencies have been on a high alert and “more vigilant than ever before” following several complaints from local hotels that there is an increase in the number of Pakistanis who book accommodation and then end up not showing up.

This means that the hotels lose money with these dubious bookings and also on other potential visitors who are unable to book because the hotels are supposed to be full.

“We are extremely worried by this new trend and we have noticed that the newly acquired eVisa system, which is meant to facilitate easier entry into the country by tourists, is being seriously abused by some nationals. We will never allow this,” stated the South African Home Affairs Minister.