Mos Def Allowed to Leave South Africa 10 Months After Being Detained

Following a bitter immigration dispute, Mos Def is allowed to leave South Africa after being a detained for 10 months

Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images

Following a bitter immigration dispute, Mos Def is allowed to leave South Africa after being detained for 10 months.

The hip hop legend — also known as Yasiin Smith Bey — has been living in the country since 2013, but ignited controversy in January when he attempted to leave using a World Passport, which doesn’t specify the holder’s nationality. While the document has been recognized in 160 countries on a case-by-case basis for more than 60 years, it is not valid in South Africa. He was arrested while trying to use the World Passport to depart Cape Town, and faced criminal charges for breaking immigration laws.

In addition to this passport dispute, South African immigration officials have accused Def, 42, and certain members of his family of overstaying their visas.

After a 10 month standoff, South Africa’s Home Affairs department reveals that Def has offered an apology in exchange for clearance to leave the country.

“Mr. Smith Bey has stated that he acknowledges and accepts that a foreigner may only depart from the Republic upon presentation of a valid passport, and that a world passport is not a valid passport in terms of the Immigration Act,” reads a statement from the Home Affairs department, in part.

“Based on his apology, and the confirmation that he will depart… using a valid passport, the department will withdraw the charges against him,” the statement continues.

While he’s been granted permission to leave the country, Def has been officially declared an “undesirable person” by the Director-General of Home Affairs, thus barring him from reentering at a later date.

“However, Mr. Smith Bey may apply for a waiver, for good cause,” the statement concludes.

Around the same time the immigration issues were heating up in January, Def shared a freestyle rap posted to friend Kanye West’s website. After the verses, he announced that he was retiring from music and acting “effective immediately.”

But before he goes, he plans to perform four “farewell” concerts in the northeastern United States. The dates will kick off on Dec. 21 at New York City’s Apollo Theater, followed by shows at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center Concert Hall from Dec. 31 through Jan. 2.

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