Yasiin Bey (Mos Def) arrested for using a false passport in South Africa

The rapper will still be made to leave, though.

American rapper Yasiin Bey has been arrested in South Africa, after attempting to leave the country under a false passport.

The rapper – who went by the name Mos Def until he renamed himself in late 2011 – was arrested at Cape Town airport on Thursday (January 14), according to South African Department of Home Affairs spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete. He is said to have tried to depart on an unrecognised ‘world passport’.

South African media is reporting that the rapper has been living in South Africa since May 2013, but had overstayed the terms of his visa by mid-2014, and was the subject of a court order to leave. Following the arrest for use of a false passport, the rapper and actor now has 14 days to leave South Africa.

Back in 2014, the rapper had to pull an American tour around the time he should have left South Africa, in May of 2014, due to legal issues. Together Music Festival – where he was due to play – posted the following notice:

“We regret to inform you that due to immigration/legal issues Yasiin Bey is unable to enter back into the United States and his upcoming tour has been cancelled.”


The New Yorker has talked about his reasons for moving away from his native New York to base himself in South Africa in an interview with Rolling Stone. Back in 2014, he explained:

“I lived in Brooklyn 33 years of my life. I thought I’d be buried in that place. And around seven years ago, I was like, you know, ‘I gotta go, I gotta leave.’ It’s very hard to leave. And I lived in a lot of places – Central America, North America, Europe for a while. And I came to Cape Town in 2009 and it just hit me. I was like, ‘Yeah.’ I know when a good vibe gets to you. And, you know, I thought about this place every day from when I left.”

“I’m not here just for like middle class comfort, you know. Sure, it’s a beautiful place, you got the ocean, the mountain, the botanical garden, the beautiful people, the history, the culture, the struggle and everything – maaan, let me tell you something, for a guy like me, who had five or six generations not just in America but in one town in America, to leave America, things gotta be not so good with America.”

Bey’s also known for dealing with immigration in his lyrics, and went through Guantanamo Bay force-feeding procedures in a video for the Guardian in May 2013, with the video later becoming one of the newspaper’s most viewed of all time.