Mos Def was arrested in South Africa for violating local immigration laws, the Department of Home Affairs confirmed to Billboard. He has 14 days to leave to the country.
The 43-year-old rapper, who goes by the name Yasiin Bey, was arrested at Cape Town International Airport on Thursday (Jan. 14) and is currently being detained for attempting to leave the country with a fraudulent travel document that was an unrecognized “world passport,” the Department of Home Affairs spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete said. He adds that Bey — who arrived in the country in 2013 with a U.S. passport — “overstayed his visitor’s permit” by 2014.
The Brooklyn rapper appeared in court alongside family members without permits, according to the Associated Press. Should Def (real name Dante Smith) receive a court order to leave the country, it could mean a ban of up to five years from South Africa. He could also appeal to officials for leniency.
In 2014, he discussed why he left America in an 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.”
He added, “Earth is a very big and open place. That doesn’t mean I don’t value my family or my audience here in America. It’s just that I needed to take some time to put myself in environments where I felt good.”