Report: Zimbabweans 'sent to die'
The Hawks have denied sending “suspects” back to Zimbabwe to die.
“At no point did any of our members render people to Zimbabwe,” Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela said on Sunday.
McIntosh also denied claims that it had been in contact with Hawks’ boss Anwa Dramat.
“He [Dramat] never spoke to the Sunday Times. I was the one who sent a response to the Sunday Times. Anwa Dramat, as you know, doesn’t speak to the media,” he said.
McIntosh said the Hawks did not follow up on what happened to illegal immigrants after deportation.
“If they do not have papers, we then hand them over to immigration authorities at Beit Bridge. We don’t have a mandate to be checking up on everybody that is deported,” he said.
Senior officials of the Hawks and the South African Police Services are conducting an illegal “rendition” with their Zimbabwean counterparts, the Sunday Times has reported.
The newspaper reported that the government agencies arrest “suspects” and illegally send them across the Beit Bridge border to be murdered.
Dramat confirmed that at least three individual identified by the Sunday Times were in fact taken across the border by the police.
He said they were properly deported but was unable to provide the newspaper with proof.
Rendition is the illegal kidnapping and transfer of prisoner from one country to another.
The paper described the case of Zimbabwean, Witness Ndeya, 26. He was suspected of shooting a police officer and was reportedly renditioned by the Hawks and then murdered, apparently by Zimbabwean police. This after he was arrested as an illegal immigrant, but instead of being detained, was driven to the Beit Bridge border by police. A few days later the Zimbabwean police told the family “that Witness Ndeya was killed by other police officers”, according to another man who was arrested with him and later released.
Ndeya’s death certificate confirmed he died at “Hippo Valley Farm” in Bulawayo on November 20, with the cause of death listed as “multiple gunshot wounds”.
Dramat confirmed that Ndeya and his companions were “all arrested as illegal immigrants” and were “deported “.
But he denied these were illegal renditions, saying everyone “followed protocol”, whereby deported individuals must be handed over to an immigration official from Zimbabwe.
His spokesperson, McIntosh Polela, said, “At no point did we simply hand over people to authorities without [an immigration official present], because that would constitute rendition.”
The alleged incident is a contravention of the Immigration Act. It also runs contrary to a “special dispensation” by the government at the time that prevented Zimbabweans from being deported from South Africa.
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].”
Zimbabwean police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka said he “can’t confirm or deny that Ndeya was arrested or killed”.
The Sunday Times said it was aware of several other individuals who have also been renditioned to Zimbabwe.—Sapa and staff reporters