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South Africa Calls Mos Def ‘An Undesireable Person,’ Allows Him to Leave Country


South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs has designated U.S. rapper Mos Def (real name Dante Terrell Smith) as an undesirable person and gave him the green light to depart the country on Tuesday.

South Africa had detained and charged the rapper, also known as Yasiin Bey, with attempting to leave the country using a world passport, which South Africa does not recognize as a valid. He subsequently apologized and admitted to contravention of South Africa’s Passport and Travel Documents Act No. 4 of 1994.

“[Dante Terrell Smith] has been coming to our country more than five times, and during all those times, he was using the U.S. passport because he is a U.S. citizen. So now, you understand, that for him to go and get a world passport is something which we do not recognize,” Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni told reporters.

The department also disclosed in a tweet that the rapper’s apology has been accepted, ‘‘but he will not qualify for a port-of-entry visa or admission to the republic.” Adding in a statement that Mos Def ‘‘has applied for and will be traveling out of the republic on a U.S. passport.”

Mos Def was arrested in Cape Town earlier this year when he attempted to board a flight to Ethiopia using a “World Government of World Citizens” passport. The world passport is issued by the World Service Authority, a U.S.-based Non-Governmental Organization founded in 1953 by Garry Davis, a former Broadway actor and World War II bomber pilot.

Davis created the world passport as a way of giving stateless people and refugees access to identification that could be used to cross international boundaries. The WSA says the world passport represents the “inalienable human right of freedom of travel on planet Earth.” The passport is accepted in six countries and recognized in 150 countries in special situations. South African officials say Mos Def had earlier used a U.S. passport 10 times to enter South Africa.

The rapper had previously said he did not understand why he was being prevented from leaving South Africa.

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