'Let Mos Def leave this mess behind'
US rapper Mos Def has been "constantly harassed" by the Department of Home Affairs since his arrest last Thursday in connection with using a fraudulent passport.
This is according to his lawyer, Craig Smith.
Smith, who is being instructed by Nelson Mandela's grandson, Zondwa Mandela, said Mos Def and his family had been getting "constant harassment from Home Affairs".
The rapper, whose real name is Dante Terrell Smith aka Yasiin Bey, was flying to Ethiopia with his wife and child when he was prevented from boarding because he was using an invalid document known as a world passport.
Bey has appeared in court and was granted bail. He will appear again in March.
Smith said a Malawian friend of Bey's, who was living in his house, was also arrested this week.
"They labelled the lady a cleaner, although she was in jeans."
He said Home Affairs officials had entered the premises without a warrant.
"Mr Bey and his family should be allowed to leave. He wants to leave this mess behind and is aggrieved by the way he is being treated.
"This is nothing more than the department realising who he is and attempting to prove a point that no one is above the law."
Home Affairs said yesterday South Africa had welcomed artists from all over the globe and they subjected themselves to the country's laws. Spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete said South African artists going to other countries also subjected themselves to laws of those host countries.
"You cannot hold us to ransom and say that if we do not allow [people] to contravene our laws then people are not going to come to South Africa. I think that is unfair," he said.
The department's director-general, Mkuseli Apleni, said South Africa only recognised passports issued by other governments or international, regional and subregional organisations such as the UN, African Union, Southern African Development Community and African Development Bank as listed in immigration regulations.
"Proper procedure was followed for his arrest. A warrant was obtained. He faces charges of contravening the Immigration Act."
Apleni said Bey faced charges of misrepresentation by using a false identity, presenting a document not issued by a lawful authority and aiding and abetting his family's stay in the country illegally.