SA police slammed for refusing to help beaten Zim man

South Africa’s police force is facing criticism for refusing to help a Zimbabwean man, who was beaten by security guards at a refugee reception office in that country last week.

The man, Lucky Dube, was trying to sort out his asylum documents at the Maitland Refugee Reception Office in the Western Cape, after making an application late last year. He told SW Radio Africa on Tuesday that he and others in the outside queue at the office last Thursday were told to ‘move’ by the security guards there.

“They told us to move, so we did, and then one kept telling me to move and move and then he pushed me and I fell over. I got up and asked ‘Why have you pushed me? I am doing what you said’,” Dube explained.

He continued: “I could see he had something in his hand and he was trying to hit me and I tried to defend myself. He then called two more guards and they all started beating me.”

Dube eventually collapsed and was taken to hospital. After he was treated for bruising and a broken nose he was released, and advised to go to the local police to try and report the incident. But the cops refused to let him make a statement.

“They made me wait for the detective and when he came he asked me lots of questions but he said he couldn’t help me, he said ‘You’re illegal, I can’t help you’,” Dube said.

Western Cape based refugee rights group, PASSOP then sent its head paralegal officer to assist Dube to lay the charges against the security guards who assaulted him. But, again they refused to allow Dube his right to lay charges.

“Their excuse for this was because his documents had expired – the very reason he was at the refugee centre where he was assaulted,” PASSOP said in a statement.

The group said: “Refusing the right to access justice is unconstitutional. The Maitland Police’s actions were unlawful and they are acting as if they were in collusion with the perpetrators at the Refugee Reception Centre.”

They added: “The case of Mr. Dube is just one of the examples of the type of injustices that refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants have to suffer in the face of SAPS officers who are xenophobic, or at best, apathetic to the plight of non-nationals.”

Dube meanwhile explained that the treatment he suffered, especially at the hands of the police, was not “that surprising.”

“You hear stories all the time about how people are treated, especially if you aren’t South African. So I am not surprised,” Dube said.

The assault on Dube meanwhile comes as South Africa continues to face accusations of ill treatment of foreigners in the country, with the authorities appearing to be actively preventing asylum seekers from applying for protection.

According to the Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) group, a recent policy change has made it mandatory for new applicants for asylum to produce an ‘Asylum Transit Permit’ when they submit an application for asylum at refugee reception offices, located in Musina, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town. These permits, despite not being part of the Refugees Act, are meant to be made available at the border.

But the LHR has found that this Permit is not being issued at the main point of entry at Beitbridge, potentially leaving hundreds of Zimbabweans at risk of arrest and deportation.

At the same time, police road blocks are also being set up in the Limpopo Province to screen the immigration status of all foreigners travelling out of the area. The LHR said that most asylum seekers have to travel through this province if they’ve come into South Africa at the Musina border. The group said that the police are arresting people who may be trying to seek protection as asylum seekers. These persons are then being summarily deported. – SW Radio Africa News

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