SA prisons defy high court order-(08-02-07

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Correctional Service officials at the Boksburg Correctional Facility have defied a high court order to release Zimbabwean clergyman Pastor Immanuel Hlabangana.
His lawyers last week successfully appealed to the High Court for his immediate release. The High Court

judge overturned Magistrate Agenbag’s decision to revoke bail that had been granted to Hlabangana on January 28. The State did not oppose bail.
Immediately after Honourable Judge Moshidi’s ruling, Hlabangana’s lawyer Thabang Machacha completed the necessary paperwork and rushed to Boksburg prison to fetch his client. He was confronted by a flat refusal by Correctional Service officials to release Hlabangana on the grounds that the paperwork necessary for the release of an incarcerated person has to come from the police and can only be accessed during office hours.
Prison officials refused to allow him to see his client. They also turned down his request for Hlabangana to be moved to a less crowded cell until his release. Machacha has vowed to continue with efforts to secure Hlabangana’s release.
Hlabangana’s ordeal at the hands of the South African justice system started on the night of January 26 in Edenvale when he and his friend Duduzile Ndlovu were stopped and searched by police. When police arrested Ndlovu because she said she did not have her passport on her, Hlabangana followed to the police station where he questioned the reasons for her arrest. He was told that he “thought he was too clever” and was promptly thrown into police cells where he spent two nights until he was released on bail two day’s later.
His experience took on nightmarish proportions on January 29 when Magistrate Agenbag of the Edenvale Magistrate’s court revoked the bail that had been granted on Sunday 28 th January by the inspector on duty on that day. Machacha Attorneys were tasked with approaching the high court for an urgent application to have the magistrates’ ruling of revoking bail set aside.
On Hlabangana’s second appearance in court the next day the same magistrate insisted on verification of Hlabangana’s personal particulars. Magistrate Agenbag was then provided with verification from the Department of Home Affairs that Hlabangana’s passport and visa were genuine as well as an affidavit from Hlabangana’s sister that he was living in her house during his stay in South Africa. Magistrate Agenberg then ruled that Hlabangana should remain in custody until February 5, while police verified his physical address.
The charges against Hlabangana still stand and we await information on future court dates. Lawyers for Human Rights in South Africa is preparing a submission on the Hlabangana case to the South African Human Rights Commission and the Independent Complaints Directorate. – Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe

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