If you have not applied for a passport or national identification card, what are the chances that your identity has already been sold to someone else?
A wide-ranging investigation by Informanté has revealed how the identities of hundreds of unsuspecting citizens have been sold to foreign and local fraudsters who have used them to obtain Namibia’s well-reputed passports, often with intentions to commit crimes abroad.
Documents in possession of Informanté indicate that there were numerous cases of identity theft involving suspected foreigners and Namibians who applied for passports using the names and identities of mostly deceased Namibians.
The most glaring case of identity theft involves an unidentified man in his late 30s who stole the identity of Progress Peter Shipiki, a Namibian boy who died at the age of 26 in 2006.
According to documents obtained from an immigration agent, an unidentified man known only to be a Nigerian national used Shipiki’s identity particulars to apply for a passport.
Elizabeth Shipiki, a relative of the late Progress Peter Shipiki, confirmed that the man had died in 2006, and that a case has been opened by police concerning his identity theft. Bobby Mifima, a figure who has been linked to a number of fraudulent passport applications, submitted the application on May 8, 2008.
The true identity of the applicant remains unknown, since he only gave his picture under Shipiki’s particulars.
“The police officer investigating the matter did not come back to us, and we assumed that he got all the information he wanted,” Shipiki said.
Sources at the Ministry of Home Affairs have blamed the rise in identity theft on poor policing.
“There is a serious lack of policing at Home Affairs. We have a problem with fraud at Home Affairs because there are no specialised police officers integrated into the department, we have many pending fraud cases that have never been investigated,” one officer at Home Affairs said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In another recent case, the identity of Muashekele Moses Muhanga was stolen by an unidentified person, and used to apply for a Namibian passport.
The fraudulent application lodged via immigration agency, Kandume Consultancy, was supported by Muhanga’s birth certificate and ID 7606301026-2. However, the application was quickly rejected because a passport had already been issued to a person in this name with the same identity particulars.
Prominent gospel musician and Ministry of Home Affairs employee Naftali Hamkwelele (aka D-Naff), was identified as next of kin on the application carrying Muashekele’s identity particulars, which included no certified copies of the applicant’s identity documents.
Hamkwelele denied any knowledge of the applicant’s true identity, saying that he only knew him from Virgin Active Gym.
“I do not know that guy,” he said. “My name was written on his application by an agent at Kandume Consultancy. I only met him briefly at the gym. That guy cannot write, he can’t even speak English, he is like a farmer, but I don’t know him.”
Another foreign national known only as Prince, also applied for a Namibian passport using a Namibian ID card belonging to a certain Michael Dausab ID 750112 0021-3, using an altered picture.
Further investigations by Informanté into the matter revealed that Prince is a Nigerian national, and does not even know Michael Dausab.
Copies made by an immigration agency prior to submitting the application to Home Affairs confirmed that Prince had in fact applied for a passport under a false name, using a fabricated ID.