Home Affairs clarifies the arrest of US musician

The Department of Home Affairs on Wednesday clarified the recent arrest of American musician and actor, Dante Terrell Smith, also known as Mos Def and/or Yasiin Bey, who tried to use a World Passport when leaving the country.

"Mr Smith was arrested in Cape Town when he tried to leave South Africa on a World Government of World Citizens passport. This was along with his spouse also a US national - with a US passport - and a minor - also on a US passport.

"The major problem why he could not get on the Ethiopian flight was the document he produced at the immigration counter, the World Passport, which South Africa does not recognise," said Home Affairs Director General Mkuseli Apleni at a special media briefing in Pretoria on Wednesday.

Immigration officers at the time had also detected that his spouse and minor child had overstayed their visit to the Republic. Their visitors' visas had expired in April 2014, and were therefore in the country illegally.

Apleni said proper procedure was followed for Smith's arrest.

According to Apleni, Smith has been a frequent visitor to South Africa since 2013.

His first visit to South Africa was on 2 June 2013. He entered South Africa ten times, and has always entered the country on a visitor's visa, which has a 90 days exemption, using a US passport, not a World Passport.

Smith's last arrival in South Africa was on 30 November 2015 on a visitor's passport, with his allocated 90 days to expire on 28 February 2016.

He attempted to leave the Republic in January using another document, and not his US passport with which he had initially entered the Republic.

Apleni questioned as to why Smith opted to use the World Passport as opposed to the US Passport that he has been using.

Smith's spouse and the minor child have been ordered to leave the country by 29 January 2016, while Smith is expected to appear in court for trial on 8 March 2016.

He faces charges for contravening the Immigration Act, 13 of 2002, by allegedly using a false identity, presentation of a document not issued by a lawful authority and aiding and abetting his family to stay illegally in South Africa.

Apleni said South Africa had no reason to do anything consciously to undermine any person's human rights.

"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 there was no reason, as a country, to refuse anybody entry or departure, as long as such travel is legal.