Artist News Legal

South African authorities charge Mos Def with attempting to travel on “fictitious” passport

By | Published on Thursday 21 January 2016

Yasiin Bey/Mos Def

Rapper Yasiin Bey, better known as Mos Def, has been charged with breaking South Africa’s immigration laws after attempting to leave the country using a ‘World Passport’, which authorities say is not recognised in the country.

The World Passport is a travel document not affiliated to any one country, issued by the World Service Authority. The non-profit organisation has been making these passports available since 1954, citing Article 21(3) of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, which says that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government”. Though most countries don’t formally accept them anyway.

Bey was arrested in Cape Town (where he has lived since 2013) last week as he attempted to fly to Ethiopia. He was charged and released on bail yesterday, and is due to appear in court on 8 Mar.

In a statement issued through Kanye West’s website, Bey said: “At this present time, I am currently in Cape Town, South Africa and I’m being prevented from leaving unjustly, unlawfully and without any logical reason … Anyone can do the research about the World Passport; it’s not a fictitious document. It is not meant to deceive or derive unlawful benefit from any nation state at all. In fact, the World Passport has been accepted here on numerous occasions in South Africa, in Johannesburg and Cape Town as early as 1996 and as late as 2015”.

Authorities have also ordered Bey’s wife and child to leave the country by 29 Jan. The rapper says that he is willing to move with his family “immediately” to another country “never to return”. He also says in the message that he is retiring from the music and film industries “effective immediately”.