Mos Def's radio station on the star leaving SA
~ Christopher Polk
Johannesburg - American rapper Mos Def will not face charges in South Africa for using a so-called "world passport" but will be banned from returning to the country, government officials said on Tuesday.
The 42-year-old hip hop artist, actor and activist, whose birth name was Dante Smith but who has used the name Yasiin Bey for the last five years, was arrested in Cape Town in January after trying to leave South Africa on his unofficial passport.
Ending months of court hearings and postponements, the government announced that charges against him would be dropped after he apologised and agreed to fly out of the country later on Tuesday.
"This is clearly a vindication of the position we had taken on this matter, including the fact that we do not recognise the world passport," the Home Affairs department said in a statement.
"Mr Smith Bey (Mos Def) has applied for and will be travelling out of the republic on a US passport."
It added that he would be declared an "undesirable person" and not be allowed to return to South Africa.
Mos Def was arrested at Cape Town airport while attempting to board a flight to Ethiopia. He was freed on bail of R5 000 ($350, 334 euros).
He had entered South Africa with a legitimate US passport last year, but tried to leave using a "World Government of World Citizens" passport.
The World Government of World Citizens was established in 1953 by the late peace activist Garry Davis, an American who renounced his citizenship after World War II.
Mos Def is believed to have been staying regularly in Cape Town for several years.
"I haven't broken any law. And I'm being treated like a criminal," he said in a message released via superstar rapper Kanye West's Twitter feed at the time of his arrest.
Speaking to The Juice, Jon Savage - from the radio station that Mos Def works on TheEye.tv - said: "The Eye is a global platform that gives voice to interesting opinions and view points from anywhere on earth. The question I'd like to raise, putting the media blitz around Yasiin aside: I'd like to know why our government, who claim to want to grow the economy, invite tourism and foreign investment, are not making it easier for the Yasiins of the world to promote and celebrate the beautiful things coming out of Africa."