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SITEKI – A 33-year-old Nigerian woman arrested in possession of fraudulent documentation at the King Mswati III International Airport claimed she was in the country for assessment by top women sides.

The two Women Football League (WFL) teams she claimed she  intended  to join for trials were mentioned during her court appearance yesterday. However, their names have been withheld as the two teams have denied knowledge of the player. Bolaji Fadilat Temitope appeared before Siteki Magistrate Machawe Bhembe charged for entering the country on Saturday in possession of fraudulent documentation, at the King Mswati III International Airport. She elected to conduct her own defence on the matter. Bolaji was charged with two counts by the police officers stationed at the airport.

In count one, Bolaji had been charged for contravening Section 14 (1) (d) of the Immigration Act of 1987 in that upon July 9, 2022 at about 8:30am at or near King MSwati III International Airport in the Lubombo Region, the said accused person did unlawfully possessed a fraudulent document to with Visa No: 01789/2022, thus contravening the said Act.
In count two, Bolaji had also been charged with the offence of contravening Section 14 (2) (c) of the Immigration Act of 1987 in that upon July 9, 2022 at about 8:30am near King Mswati III International Airport in the Lubombo Region, the said accused person did unlawfully enter Eswatini thus contravened the said Act.


Inside the dock, Bolaji when narrating the arrangement of coming into country she started to weep uncontrollably forcing Magistrate Bhembe to plead with her to contain herself. According to her, she told the court that she received an invitation to attend trials in the country from a football agent. She further told the court that she was furnished with a letter of invitation and she facilitated the acquiring of a visa and furnished the agent with the copy including her passport for processing purposes. “I enquired from them if the visa they had sent to me was authentic and they said yes. It was when I got to the airport that I got to understand that the documents were fraudulent after being informed by the police. I was shocked and surprised and I’m very sorry about this,” she told the court between sobs.

The magistrate asked her if she pleaded guilty to the charges that had been preferred against her. She responded to the affirmative. Bhembe further asked her what could she say in her mitigation, it was at that moment when she started to narrate the whole story of how she came into the country. She told the court that she was invited to do trials for two weeks with a local teams. “I was told to send money and passport so that my visa application can be processed of which I did. After three weeks of doing that, I got the visa and I called the agent to enquire if the visa was authentic before leaving my country and she told me it was. It is my first time finding myself in this situation and I want to go back home. I thought leaving my country of birth will open dreams for me,” said the Nigerian Hopeland Ladies Soccer team palyer.

In his verdict, Bhembe considered that Bolaji was a first time offender and that she was willing to be deported to her home country, hence he sentenced her to a fine fixed at E500 or two months imprisonment which he wholly suspended on the basis that she should not commit a similar offence in a period not exceeding three months. The magistrate further considered that the accused person had bought a ticket and was expected to jet out of the country today. He ordered that the police officer in charge of the case, Sergeant Sitsebe should ensure that Bolaji boarded her flight today.

Called to shed light on the matter,  the said agent confirmed knowledge of the player but highlighted that all travelling arrangements were done by her Business Manager identified as Simon. “Simon called me and told me that there is a player who wants to play soccer in Eswatini. I was told she had done all the required paperwork and I made a mistake by not double-checking with immigration. I told the guy that the visa he sent me was not authentic,” said the agent, who cannot be named as some of the claims made against him could not be proven.
Worth mentioning is that the country has been experiencing an influx of foreign nationals, especially Asians who have been nabbed at the airport with fraudulent documentations. Last month, five Bangladeshi nationals namely, Agun Mohammed Zahid Hasan (34), Hossan Ekbal (20), Islam Sagor (30), Hossain Mohammed Riyad (34) and Islam Mcherajul (19) pleaded guilty on both similar counts they were charged with.

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