Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Terrorism threatens no-visa deal

Visa. Photo / NZPA
Visa. Photo / NZPA

The visa-waiver agreement with South Africa is to be reviewed amid suggestions that terrorists and criminals are travelling on fraudulently obtained passports from the republic.

A Cabinet paper recommends Immigration Minister Nathan Guy and Associate Minister Kate Wilkinson review the arrangement by the end of the year.

"There are concerns about the fraudulent use of South African passports by non-South African nationals and the availability of fraudulently issued legitimate South African passports," Mr Guy said.

"While Immigration New Zealand has been very successful in managing these risks to date, it is appropriate to reassess the current visa-waiver arrangement ... to determine whether a change is warranted."

In the 12 months to February, 72 people have been prevented from travelling to or entering New Zealand with what were thought to be fraudulently obtained South African passports.

In the past five years, 5057 foreign nationals were refused entry at the border - 3262 were believed to have non-genuine reasons for travelling and 448 were seen as "likely to commit a crime in New Zealand".

However, an Immigration NZ spokesman said yesterday there was no breakdown of how many were travelling on South African passports.

Britain also stopped allowing South African passport holders to enter without a visa three years ago, saying South Africa "fell short of the required standard" of passport security.

Anneli Botha, senior terrorism researcher at the International Crime in Africa Programme, says South Africans can use their driver's licence, identity book or a birth certificate to apply for a passport, and fake South African birth certificates can be bought easily on the black market.

In an article for the Institute for Security Studies, she lists a number of al-Qaeda-linked terrorists caught with South African passports, including two alleged to be part of a 2006 plot to blow up airliners.

- NZ Herald

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