Yasiin Bey Arrested in South Africa for Fake Passport

Rapper has 14 days to leave South Africa after violating local immigration laws for attempting to leave country with unrecognized passport

Rapper Yasiin Bey, formerly Mos Def, has been arrested at a South African airport after attempting to leave country with a fraudulent passport Credit: Julia Reinhart/Demotix/Corbis

Yasiin Bey, the rapper-actor formerly known as Mos Def, was arrested Thursday at South Africa's Cape Town International Airport for violating local immigration laws. Bey appeared in court after the arrest, according to South Africa Department of Home Affairs spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete, The Associated Press reports. He has 14 days to leave the country. 

Bey produced a fraudulent "world passport" when attempting to leave the country, Tshwete said. The performer entered South Africa on an American passport in 2013 but "overstayed his visitor's permit" by the following year. 

Bey - who has reportedly lived in Cape Town since May 2013 – appeared in court with family members also in South Africa without a permit. A court order to leave the country results in a five-year ban from South Africa, according to the AP, but he may make an appeal for leniency. 

As Billboard notes, the rapper explained his reasons for leaving the U.S. during a 2014 interview with Beats By Dre. "It's really America's a very challenging place for me," he said. "Sure, there's great business opportunities, familiarity and all that. But given the current social, political, economic climate, it's very difficult. Unnecessarily difficult. To create to the degree of fullness, the type of robust, type of creativity that I like to have, it's very difficult for me to produce that here.”

In August, Bey surprise-released "Basquiat Ghostwriter," a manic track inspired by police brutality and the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat. That same month, "Sensei on the Block," a surprise collaboration with producer Ski Beatz, was unveiled.