Yasiin Bey, the American rapper formerly known as Mos Def, has been charged with violating South Africa’s immigration laws after he was arrested last week trying to leave the country on an unrecognized travel document.
Bey, who is free on bail, will appear in court on March 8, officials said on Wednesday.
The entertainer was arrested on Thursday in Cape Town when he produced a “World Passport” to get on a flight to Ethiopia.
The World Passport is a document issued by a non-profit organization called World Service Authority. South Africa does not recognize it, making it illegal for anyone to try to use it as a travel document, the Home Affairs department said.
Bey, who has lived in Cape since 2013, called his arrest illogical and unjust in a post on fellow rapper Kanye West’s website.
“I’m being prevented from leaving, unjustly, unlawfully, without any logical reason.” – Mos Def
The World Passport was not a fictitious document as claimed by South African government officials, he said.
Citing the United Nations’ right to freedom of movement, the World Service Authority has been issuing World Passports since 1954. Many countries do not accept the passport either as travel document or a formal identity but WSA claims countries such as Togo, Mauritiania, Ecuador, Zambia, Tanzania have accepted the 30-page document in the past.
Authorities have also ordered Bey’s wife and child to leave South Africa by January 29 because they had overstayed their visit.
Born Dante Terrell Smith, Bey, also played roles in films such as “The Italian Job”, “Brown Sugar” and Cadillac Records.
(Reporting by Reuters – Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by James Macharia and Angus MacSwan)