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SAfrica defense's minister under fire for jet 'rescue'

SAfrica defense's minister under fire for jet 'rescue'
Defense minister used air force jet to fly Burundian woman with false passport into South Africa, says Sunday Times

By Hassan Isilow

JOHANNESBURG (AA) - South Africa’s main opposition party Monday called for prosecution of the nation’s defense minister for transporting a Burundian woman with a false passport on an air force jet into the country.

Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Defense Minister Kobus Marais appealed to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in a statement to prosecute Defense Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula for violating the Immigration Act.

South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper reported that Mapisa-Nqakula flew to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2014, to fetch a 20-year-old Michelle Wege, who had been detained at Kinshasa International Airport.

According to the paper, Wege had been arrested for using fraudulent travel documents reportedly organized by a former employee of the South African Embassy in Burundi.

When Mapisa-Nqakula arrived in the DRC with a high-powered delegation, officials there released Wege to her care.

She later flew to Ethiopia for an African Union meeting before returning with Wege to South Africa, where she obtained a study permit for the woman.

The defense minister told Sunday Times that she had rescued the girl from an abusive family. Mapisa-Nqakula, who has since taken care of Wege, said the young woman was a friend of her sister’s children.

Mapisa-Nqakula’s sister previously lived in Burundi, where she worked for the South African Embassy in the capital Bujumbura.

“Everybody has sympathy for Wege, but it’s very difficult to know why the minister decided to use illegal means to bring her here,” Paul Hoffman, director of the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa, told Anadolu Agency.

He said civil society groups, including his organization, will ask the anti-corruption watchdog to intervene and probe the minister.

“I don’t think a lot will happen to the minister even if a probe was instituted,” Political Science Professor Andre Duvenhage told Anadolu Agency on Monday.

He said if South Africa was functioning as a truly constitutional democracy, Mapisa-Nqakula should have lost her job.

Government spokespersons have so far declined comment on the issue, saying a statement will be issued soon.

source: News Feed
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