Asylum seeker used false passport to work

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A FAILED asylum seeker was jailed after he got a job in Sheffield by using a false passport.

Lonafu Mkwananzi was beaten by the militia in his native Zimbabwe when he went on strike as a primary school teacher.

He fled on a legitimate passport and flew to the UK via South Africa and France before claiming asylum in November 2002, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Despite a number of appeals he was refused asylum and, two years later, the process was exhausted.

But he stayed on and applied for a job at Manpower Services in 2007 using a false passport he bought from a man in Luton for £400.

He got a job working for British Telecom and illegally earned £77,449.

He also claimed benefits for an eight-month period while he was working before he was arrested in January, 2011.

Bev Tait, prosecuting, said Mkwananzi, 39, presented a false passport and claimed he was legally allowed to work in the UK, which he was not.

He got a job as a data processor with BT. His scam was uncovered when he was suspended following an internal investigation.

It emerged Mkwananzi had claimed asylum and initially moved to Doncaster where he legitimately claimed benefits. When they stopped after his asylum application failed he went to live with friends.

His wife came to the UK on a student visa and became pregnant in 2007.

She could not work so he decided he had to get a job to provide for his family.

He needed a passport and a work permit to get a job, so paid for the false documents.

Mkwananzi, of York Street, Cudworth, Barnsley, admitted possessing a false identity document and fraudulently obtaining work.

James Baird, defending, said he was refused asylum and worked to support his wife and young family.

“He is otherwise a decent person who finds himself in this country without support,” said Mr Baird.

Jailing him for six months, judge Roger Keen told Mkwananzi: “You bought a forged passport and used it to obtain work and you carried on with that charade for three years.

I appreciate you were in a very difficult position but using a false passport in these circumstances is too serious for anything other than custody.”