SA denies report of deadly deal with Zim police

South Africa’s priority crimes unit and the police have denied being part of a deadly deal with its Zimbabwean counterparts, which s resulted in the murder of ‘suspects’ sent across the border.

According to a special report by South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper, senior officials in the Hawks and the police are conducting illegal ‘renditions’ with Zimbabwean police. A rendition is the illegal kidnapping and transfer of a prisoner from one country to another and, according to the newspaper, Zimbabwean suspects are being arrested in South Africa and then sent across the border illegally and killed

The newspaper reported this weekend that South Africa’s Police Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, is sitting on explosive reports, listing at least three deaths allegedly as the result of a ‘renditions’ operation led by officers reporting to Hawks boss Anwa Dramat and Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mzwandile Petros.

The Sunday Times said it has evidence that Zimbabwean Witness Ndeya, who was suspected of shooting a policeman in his country, was “renditioned” by the Hawks and then murdered, apparently by Zimbabwean police. Ndeya was arrested, along with his nephew and two friends, for being "illegal immigrants" last November. In a sworn statement by one of the four, Shepard Tshuma, they were all taken to the Beitbridge border by South African police and handed over to Zimbabwean officials who “told us that we are under arrest for the murder of police officers.”

Tshuma and Ndeya were detained at a Bulawayo police station before the former was released a week later. Tshuma said that a few days later the Zimbabwean police told the family “that Witness Ndeya was killed by other police officers.” Ndeya’s death certificate reportedly confirmed he died at Hippo Valley Farm in Bulawayo, with the cause of death listed as “multiple gunshot wounds.”

Tshuma, along with the other two surviving “renditioned” suspects, are now hiding in South Africa, after allegedly being threatened. The Sunday Times said that it had met the three at a secret location and they all feared being “deported and murdered.”

Hawks boss Dramat has confirmed that Ndeya and his companions were “all arrested as illegal immigrants” and were “deported.” According to the Mail & Guardian newspaper, Dramat said: “We are not aware of what happened to them in Zimbabwe. It is not our mandate to do follow-ups on deported [people].”

The behaviour of South Africa’s law enforcement members in the deportation process faced even more criticism on Monday, after irregularities were reported during the deportations of Zimbabweans last week. According to the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA), about 150 Zimbabweans at a refugee reception office in Musina were rounded up by defence forces member and taken across the border.

CoRMSA’s Alfani Yoyo told SW Radio Africa that the deportation was done without any proper procedures being followed, including verification of the deportee’s status.

“Since the deportations started again, Zimbabweans have been trying to get asylum and report at refugee reception centres. So there is supposed to be proper verification practices. We condemn very strongly what has happened,” Yoyo said.

Yoyo said the deportation procedure has been clearly laid out in a directive from South Africa’s Home Affairs department, which was quietly circulated last month. This effectively ended the moratorium on Zimbabwean deportations in place since 2009.

“The directive clearly states that deportation can only be conducted after a thorough verification check to establish whether or not they have a pending application to reside legally in South Africa. Deportees must be interviewed and the arresting official should indicate in a statement that the above procedure was followed and ensure that the information given by the suspect was verified,” Yoyo said.

He added: “Instead, the deportees last week were arbitrarily rounded up and deported, and we are very afraid about this happening again.” – SW Radio Africa News

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