Image via AP.

Yasiin Bey, formerly known as Mos Def, has been living in Cape Town since May 2013, and his visitor’s permit expired by 2014, according to the AP. That year, a planned U.S. tour was cancelled when he was unable to re-enter the states. He was arrested in January of 2016 when he attempted to leave South Africa with a “world passport,” a 30-page document that is not recognized as legitimate by any country.

Hard to say why it took so long for Bey to be arrested without doing some extensive investigation into the immigration laws of South Africa, but attempting to exit the country with fake papers was apparently the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The BBC reports that Bey was released and allowed to leave based on his apology. They also say that he has confirmed he will be using a valid passport to depart, so I guess he had one the whole time. He will now be considered an “undesirable person” who cannot reenter the country, though he can apply to waive that decree in future.


World passports are distributed by the World Service Authority, which is a non-profit set up in the U.S. that believes everyone should be able to leave and enter any country they like whenever they want. On their website they claim “160 countries have visaed it[the passport] on a case-by-case basis,” but also describe the document as a “symbol and sometimes powerful tool for the implementation of the fundamental human right of freedom of travel.”

South Africa must not be on the list of countries that accepts this particular symbol.