SA cops demand bribes, harrass Zimbabweans

ngqabutho_dubeJOHANNESBURG - Members of the South African police were this week accused of resuming their harassment of Zimbabweans, which had stopped at the announcement of a moratorium on deportations in May last year. (Pictured: Ngqabutho Dube: I wonder what happens to those who do not h

Scores of people who spoke to The Zimbabwean said that they were harassed in central Johannesburg and nearby suburbs, including the sprawling Hillbrow, Yeoville and Berea, by police officers who demanded identification and bribes from them.

Although the moratorium officially ended in September, the Zimbabweans were given up to December 31 to make applications for freely processed South African work, study and business permits, after which deportations of those who remain illegally in the country will commence.

With close to two months still remaining, many Zimbabweans complained that police had already resumed the human rights abuses they were accused of before the moratorium. I was arrested and detained with many other people, all of them Zimbabweans, after we were arrested by police officers in the Johannesburg city centre on Friday evening, for failing to produce travel documents, said a Zimbabwean man early this week.

Those who could pay bribes were let loose soon after doing that, but at this time of the month, many people had nothing and were detained for the whole weekend, with most only released Monday morning and afternoon. Both MDC formations in the neighbouring country also cried foul at the police action, which they said flew in the face of having Zimbabweans legalised.

This is despite clear public announcements by the government of South Africa that Zimbabweans shall be enjoying a dispensation until 31 December, said Sibanengi Dube, spokesman for the MDC-T. Those picked up especially in Yeoville were driven around for hours waiting for relatives to come up with bribes in exchange for freedom of their dear ones.

(Gumbakumbas), huge police trucks that are notorious for ferrying Zimbabweans to Lindela Repatriation Centre were seen hovering around in Yeoville and Turffontein this weekend. Honestly these guys in blue cant wait for 31 December before they could fleece cooldrinks from Zimbabweans.

Ngqabutho Dube of the MDC faction led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, said he was also forced to intervene in the arrests of Zimbabweans using fraudulently-obtained South African documents late last week. I was forced to drive to a police station in central Johannesburg to negotiate the release of a Zimbabwean who had just been arrested while driving using a local ID and drivers license, said Dube.

Upon arrival at the police station, the officers asked the man they had arrested to park his car outside the station, gave him back his license and told him they worked another police station. I then drove to that police station. Knowing that he had made a call to me, the police officers immediately released him. I wonder what happens to those who do not have people to call upon arrest.

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