South African Police Raids Zimbabweans

South African Police Raids  Zimbabweans

Over 500 Zimbabweans raided in a midnight swoop at Methodist House-Johannesburg

JOHANNESBURG, (South Africa)-About 500 foreigners -  most  of them Zimbabweans living at the  Methodist church in central Johannesburg were arrested in a midnight   police  raid  Thursday (today).

Hillbrow Police Spokesperson, Captain Bhekizizwe Mavundla, told CAJ News that police raided the church at midnight while what he called “the unsuspecting illegal immigrants”  were still asleep.                              “I can confirm that the police arrested more than 500 illegal immigrants with majority of them coming from Zimbabwe. I can not confirm the exact figure because there is a screening exercise ongoing involving the Department of Home Affairs,” said Capt. Mavundla .            In separate interviews at the church on this  morning  some of the undocumented residents  at  the church said the swoop by the police  was preceeded by another one from  by the Johannesburg Metro cops, who confiscated food from vendors who sell at the church.                      The food, which is sold at about R5 a plate is a favourite of the immigrants – most  of whom are unemployed.                                 A 32 year old former Zimbabwean teacher, living at the church, who spoke on condition that she is not named, said the police arrived at around 11 pm and ordered that all people vacate the church.           Some of the people – men and women – came out of the church building barely dressed and some were even loaded into the police trucks barefoot, said the source.                             She said in the process the police asked the immigrants who included Zimbabweans, Malawians, Zambians, Mozambicans and some South Africans  to present their documents.Those who failed to produce valid papers were arrested and taken to Johannesburg central police station were they were detained overnight.In the melee, the teacher said most people lost their belongings.Sources also alleged that the police assaulted some of the immigrants and the even the head of the church Bishop Paul Verryn was allegedly manhandled.According to information on the Ray of Hope – a non-profit organization committed to the promotion and protection of the rights of refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons – which operates from that church, the church has been a haven for refugee and locally displaced people since 1997.”In recent months the demand for this service has increased dramatically and is a result of the significant influx of asylum seekers to Johannesburg,” said a report on the Ray of Hope website.It was not possible to contact Bishop Verryn for comment as the phone calls to the Ray of Hope organization were not answered on Thursday morning. Bishop Verryn’s mobile kept on ringing without being answered from morning and afternoon.


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