Home affairs defends arresting Mos Def over 'world passport'
US musician actor and musician Dante Terrell Smith‚ aka Mos Def or Yasiin Bey‚ has visited South Africa ten times since 2013‚ using a US passport and not a World Passport.
The home affairs department on Wednesday said the country had no reason to refuse anybody entry or departure as long as such travel was legal.
The department’s director-general, Mkuseli Apleni, told a news briefing in Pretoria that “the World Passport is not recognised under Immigration Regulation 2(4). Proper procedure was followed for his arrest. A warrant was obtained for his arrest. He faces charges for contravening the Immigration Act 13 of 2002".
He said Smith would appear for trial on March 8 2016 to answer to immigration charges‚ saying his family has received an order to leave the country by January 2016.
“As a democracy state that is so indebted to the international community for its trajectory of freedom‚ democracy and justice‚ we have no reason, whatsoever‚ to do anything consciously to undermine any person’s human rights‚” he said.
The director-general said Smith was out on bail with strict conditions‚ saying for all to be and feel safe‚ it was incumbent upon the department to implement the law without fear‚ favour or prejudice.
He said since the dawn of democracy‚ the republic had been open and will remain open and receptive to other countries and their people‚ as long as this is done within the confines of the law.
“Our international human rights record is very clear‚ as shown by among other things‚ the volume of asylum-seekers and refugees we receive in the country every year‚ our liberal immigration policies‚ and the humane and lawful manner in which we deal with all persons‚ including those found to be in transgression of the laws of the country‚” he said.
Apleni said the department found comments attributed to David Gallup of the World Service Authority, which issues the World Passport, unfortunate and condescending‚ especially being preached to about the values and principles of former president Nelson Mandela when a matter was purely about adherence to South Africa's immigration laws.
“We have long demonstrated commitment to the principles of protecting those fleeing from persecution. Even those who are facing threats‚ still subject themselves to our laws‚” he said.
- While Kanye West won’t be getting down in the City of Angels‚ Mos Def is likely not to be doing it in the Mother City.
Earlier on Wednesday‚ ahead of the Home Affairs briefing‚ #NoMorePartiesinSA was trending on Twitter. The hashtag is a play on the title of West’s No More Parties in LA‚ which was released this week.
Def adapted the title in a freestyle rap in which he took issue with SA authorities.: “Please tell them no more parties in SA/Hey Home Affairs I don’t need to stay/Why don’t I feel safe/This isn’t an expression of fear”.
Def had been arrested on January 14‚ after he had tried to leave Cape Town International Airport five days earlier “by producing an unrecognised ‘World Passport’‚ which was declined by immigration officials"‚ Home Affairs said last week.
He appeared in the Bellville Magistrate Court on January 15.
Home Affairs said it has subsequently emerged that his “wife‚ mother and four children had overstayed and were sojourning in the country illegally” and an order has been issued to them “to depart the country within 14 days”.
Home Affairs’ spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete wasn’t afraid of the fray and waded into the Twitter debate‚ with a hip answer or two on Wednesday morning.
When 2pacalypse @camRon_Mor suggested that some corners should be cut for the star - “@MTshwete since we on this tip. Let's free Yasiin‚ citizenship nyana?” – but the public servant was having none of it: “Application usually comes first”.
This was in line with his minister Malusi Gigaba’s insistence that immigration officials‚ in the course of exercising their duties‚ ought to apply the law without fear of favour.
Tshwete had‚ when the news of the arrest first broke‚ responded to shock responses from music lovers with sympathy: “We are all fans guys...but the law is the law”.
- Additional reporting by Barry McCallum. Sources: TMG Digital/The Times