A number of people detained in the Eastern Transvaal in the last few months have signed affidavits that suggest that Renamo, the Mozambican rebel movement, has had the co-operation of members of the SA Police.
The detainees have alleged that members of the police brought Renamo representatives to the prison, where they interviewed detainees to gather current information on Mozambique and about possible recruitment into Renamo.
The allegations have been made in sworn affidavits drawn up by former detainees who are considering taking legal action against the police for wrongful arrest and assault. This would indicate that individual members of the South African Police were assisting Renamo as recently as April this year, more than a year after the Nkomati Accord.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs Pik Botha said in March this year that members of the Defence Force suspected of assisting Renamo had either been sacked or moved away from Mozambique. The latest revelations took place after March and — for the first time – involved allegations levelled at members of the SAP, rather than the Defence Force.
The story emerged after the Black Sash investigated a series of claims by Tembisa residents that young Shangaan men – many of whom had reference books and housing permits to prove they were born in South Africa – were being detained without trial as illegal immigrants and maltreated in order to make them confess they were Mozambicans. Many of these people were arrested on the Reef and then taken to Nelspruit for detention. Others were detained at the Komatiepoort border post.
Observers were mystified by these detentions and only recently — when the link with Renamo became apparent – did a possible reason for the arrests emerge. One of these detainees, Peter Mabaso, spoke to the Weekly Mail this week. He claims he went to Mozambique last December to visit friends in Maputo.
On his return on January 6, after having passed through the Mozambican passport control, he was apprehended on the South African side by a black and a white policeman. He gave their names as Gunther and Vilikazi.
Although his papers, a reference book and international passport were in order, he was arrested as a suspected illegal immigrant and taken with other suspects to the Malelane police station where he was held until 3 February. He claims that during this time people from Renamo visited the cells on a number of occassions.
People were taken out of the cells one by one and asked about Mozambique. Some said they had been asked whether they wanted to join Renamo.On the 28th March Mabaso appeared in court in Barberton. His case was dismissed.
While trying to make his way back to Johannesburg he passed through Nelspruit where he was seen by a black policeman calling himself Shongwe who re-arrested him. He was held at the Nelspruit police station but was taken to an office at the Department of Co-operation and Development where he alleged that he was maltreated until he confused that he was a Mozambican.
Once he agreed to say he was a Mozambican a white man came and spoke to him about Renamo. It was suggested to him that he would required to join Renamo in order to avoid continued imprisonment.
The Weekly Mail is aware of other similar cases that support the allegation that Renamo has had accessed detainees being held in various Eastern Transvaal police station.