Pretoria – Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor today confirmed that the passport used by a woman allegedly involved in the Westgate mall attack in Kenya, dubbed the “White Widow”, was cancelled in 2011.
She confirmed that the document was issued in Durban but had later been cancelled following an investigation by the department.
Samantha Lewthwaite is believed to have entered Kenya on a fraudulent South African passport under the name Natalie Faye Webb. She is believed to have been part of the siege at Westgate mall in Nairobi, where at least 62 people were killed and 175 others wounded.
Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for Kenya’s military intervention in Somalia.
Addressing the media in Pretoria, Pandor said records showed that Lewthwaite first entered South Africa in 2008. During her time in the country, she applied for a passport under the name of Natalie Faye Webb with fraudulent supporting documents.
The minister said the department began investigating the passport in 2011 and the document was subsequently cancelled because it had been fraudulently acquired.
She said the South Africa will draw lessons from what happened in Kenya and that the department was cooperating with that country’s government.
Asked whether the incident had instigated South Africans travelling internationally having their passports scrutinised, Pandor said so far, there had been no communication from the international community regarding the passports.
It has been alleged that Lewthwaite was staying in Mayfair, Johannesburg, with her three kids while in South Africa.
She was married to Germaine Lindsay, one of four suicide bombers who attacked the London transport network in July 2005, killing 52 people.
Meanwhile, Pandor encouraged those with duplicate or multiple IDs to come forward as the department would be phasing out duplicate and multiple IDs by the end of this year.
“We have published the names of those affected in all major national and regional print media, calling on them to approach Home Affairs offices across the country for assistance.
Duplicate IDs will be invalidated by 30 October 2013 and multiple IDs by 31 December 2013. – SAnews.gov.za