Actor Wesley Snipes “fake” South African passport
Mystery surrounds actor Wesley Snipes “fake” South African passport
South Africa | 17 June 2005
By Poloko Tau
Hollywood star Wesley Snipes was curiously using a South African passport when he tried to leave South Africa on June 1.
According to documents in newspaper's possession, Snipes was held and questioned at Johannesburg International Airport, resulting in his missing an Air France flight to Switzerland, before he was allowed to board a Kenya Airways flight later that night to Geneva.
Snipes had apparently been on holiday in South Africa.
The South African passport bears Snipes's South African ID number, his full name, and his photograph. But the ID number on the passport is false, according to both the Home Affairs Department and Independent Electoral Commission websites. The actor's place of birth in the South African passport is given as the US.
At the time of the incident, Home Affairs spokesperson Leslie Mashokwe said the actor had been allowed to proceed past immigration at the airport after being "interviewed".
Mashokwe said Snipes had only been interviewed and "never arrested or held, as it is alleged".On Thursday night, he expressed surprise that Snipes had been attempting to leave the country on a South African passport.
A newspaper has provided him with copies of the documents in its possession, and Mashokwe was due to comment on them on Friday.
Snipes's South African passport shows he entered SA on May 23, leaving for Mozambique the next day via Lanseria Airport and returning to SA with the same passport on May 26, having flown into Durban.
Attempts to contact Snipes for comment were unsuccessful.
South Africa’s Home Affairs Department later said the actor had “explained that he had applied for South African documents for himself and his family through his American attorneys” but the passport was found to be a fake.“Consequently, the fraudulent South African identity document and passport were confiscated,” the ministry said.
The South African passport - issued in 2003 - showed Snipes's place of birth as the United States and the identity number correctly reflected his birth date as July 31, 1962.
However, when tested on the department of home affairs web site the ID number was found to be invalid. Snipes who also had a valid US passport, was allowed to depart, but was officially declared an "undesirable person", meaning that unlike most US citizens he will have to apply for visas for future visits to South Africa.
The Department of Home Affairs said Snipes, who said he had applied for the South African documents through his US attorneys,had agreed to participate in an investigation of the incident.
South Africa's Home Affairs Department, which issues passports and other identity papers, has in recent months been plagued by a number of corruption scandals involving false or fraudulent documentation.
The problem - including a syndicate which obtained false documents by illegally "marrying" foreigners to unwitting South African women - has raised concern over South African passports being misused, although officials say they are toughening up internal monitoring.