SA cops bribe, harass Zim migrants

MDC condemns rights violations
unaccompanied_minors_refugeesJOHANNESBURG - The MDC has condemned increased harassment of Zimbabwean migrants by members of the South African Police Service (SAPS).

More than 10 Zimbabweans, some of them women and children, were on Friday arrested and hauled into police cells in Dobsonville, Soweto, accused of being illegal immigrants. South African Home Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, has warned police against continuing the harassment of Zimbabweans, which is usually done to solicit bribes from the migrants, but this has still not stopped.

South Africa introduced a moratorium on deportations of illegal Zimbabwean migrants already in the country in April 2009, but deportations of those that remain undocumented will resume in August. Many police officers have disregarded Dlamini Zumas directive and, despite some of them having valid permits, the arrested Zimbabweans were detained overnight and only released after the intervention of Home Affairs officials.

They were charged with being illegal immigrants, after the police officers told them that they did not recognise their permits. They allegedly only released those who paid bribes. The MDC-Ts Johannesburg district, which confirmed receiving reports on the arrests and detention, criticised the police action.

We are quite disturbed by numerous reports of a similar nature, especially in the city centre, said Trust Ndlovu, the MDCs organising secretary for Johannesburg district. Our understanding is that the Zimbabwean nationals should not be arrested for being illegal immigrants because they still fall under a special dispensation, so the police conduct of constantly violating government policy is tantamount to violation of the migrants individual rights.

We therefore, deplore this unwarranted harassment of our nationals and know that some of the SAPS members are eagerly waiting for the government to lift the suspension of the Zimbabwean arrests so that they can revert back to their old tactics of enriching themselves by victimising Zimbabweans.

Human rights organisation have previously condemned the alleged relentless harassment of Zimbabwean refugees at a time when President Robert Mugabes Zanu (PF) has unleashed an orgy of violence in which it is terrorising Zimbabweans in some parts of the country.

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