The memorandum demanded action against the exploitation of Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals by the Hilbrow police who often demand exorbitant bribes in exchange of freedom. What concerns ZAPU most is that, it doesn’t matter whether a Zimbabwean has correct documentation or not, the Hilbrow police arrests and incarcerates them and those who cannot pay get their charges changed to unrelated ones such as loitering or forgery.
ZAPU has a very large membership in the area served by the Hilbrow Police Station in terms of law enforcement and public protection. As a people’s organisation, ZAPU is naturally concerned with the welfare and safety of Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals resident in South Africa.
As a member of the Stakeholders’ Forum of the Department of Home Affairs Documentation of Zimbabweans Project (DZP), ZAPU has worked hard to ensure that as many Zimbabweans as possible comply with the immigration laws of South Africa. In the recent past, we have seen an increase in abuse and unfair treatment of Zimbabweans and other foreign nationals at the hands of members of Hilbrow Police Station. Ms. Pretty Ncube, ZAPU’s liaison officer on the DZP programme, noted that calls by Zimbabweans from Hilbrow police cells to ZAPU welfare officials increased dramatically since the lifting of the moratorium on the deportation of Zimbabweans.
“Very often we have been able to have those with correct documentation released with the assistance of the Department of Home Affairs”, she said. She further added that people with valid documents are sometimes locked up for days and even weeks while the Hilbrow police claim that they are waiting for Home Affairs officials to validate the documents.
“We demand that an enquiry be initiated on the misconduct of Hilbrow Police station members and those found guilty of soliciting bribes and harassment be dealt with appropriately” said Olu Ncube, the organising secretary of ZAPU South Africa Provincial Executive Committee, reading the memorandum at the main entrance to the police station.
Part of the memorandum noted that cases of violence against foreign nationals are not investigated; instead, the foreigners themselves become subjects of intimidation and harassment when they try to open cases at Hilbrow Police Station. On that, ZAPU, demanded that foreign nationals be given equal protect under South African law at Hilbrow Police Station.
Accepting the memorandum, Brigadier Ntandane made a commitment to respond within 7 working days as demanded by ZAPU. He further requested that he meets with the leadership of ZAPU in South Africa before the 7 day deadline expires. ZAPU is currently in discussions with other concerned Zimbabwean organisations in South Africa for a join programme to ensure that Zimbabweans speak with one voice on the abuse of immigrants in Hilbrow. Zidiasa participated in the march and were led by Mr. Giyani Ndebele who commended ZAPU on this initiative. Previously, City of Johannesburg ward councillors for wards 62, 63, 64 and 67 gave their full support for the march by way of letters of support and permission for the activities in their wards. One of the ANC councillors in the area commented “At last you are doing something for yourselves. We south Africans cannot raise your issues for you until you yourselves raise them.”
The march started from Berea Park at 10:30am to Hilbrow Police Station with escort by the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) and the South African Police with sirens blazing to protect the marchers from traffic. The memorandum was handed and signed by the station commander at 12:30pm.Post published in: Africa News