SA Police brutality alleged by asylum seekers

They will take to the streets in Pretoria and Johannesburg on December 10, Universal Human Rights Day. Speaking at a Ray of Hope Ministries for Refugees meeting here recently, South African human rights activist, Thabang Mahale expressed grave concern over what he termed illegal detention, tortu

re and human rights abuses by both the South African police and the department of home affairs.

We note with concern that asylum seekers from Zimbabwe and other African countries are being subjected to police brutality, illegal body searches and human degrading while some police personnel demand bribes, said Mahale.

The meeting bashed the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Pretoria, accusing the world mother body of not protecting refugees at the mercy of police.

The South Africas home affairs department was accused of deliberately delaying issuing of papers for asylum seekers so as to allow the police to prey on them, while it was alleged that the police and home affairs officials demanded bribes and sex in return for asylum papers. No response has yet been forthcoming from home affairs.

Speaking at the same function, the Johannesburg Central Methodist Church Minister, Bishop Paul Verryn, expressed dismay over the allegations levelled against both the police and the home affairs department.

He condemned in strongest terms reports of police brutality, corruption and illegal detentions at Lindela.

Definitely there is a need to mobilise South African-based NGOs, churches and other stakeholders to protest against such human rights abuses and illegal detention. We want Lindela completely off the map, it has to be shut. Lindela is no longer a holding centre but a detention centre where rightful people applying for asylum are tortured and abused by police, said the bishop.

The refugees have since approached the powerful South African labour body of the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions (COSATU) and to fight their cause.

The South African Aids Consortium Coordinator, George Chauke, said that instead of enforcing the law in crime-ridden Johannesburg the police were busy promoting xenophobia.

Even our president, Thabo Mbeki, was once in exile in Zambia and elsewhere but was never tortured nor abused, he said. – CAJ News

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