/ 14 March 2008

Police told to be cautious in deportation matters

The police should be more cautious when dealing with deportation matters, Mpumalanga’s department of safety and security said on Friday, after a South African teenager was awarded damages for being arrested on suspicion of being in the country illegally.

The teenager — South African born Shaun Mhaule — was awarded R90 000 in damages at the Pretoria High Court earlier this week after evidence that police officers tried to load Mhaule, who was 14 at the time of the incident in 2004, onto a truck in Mpumalanga, ”back to his homeland”.

Police insisted that he was ”too dark to be a South African” and locked him up for 30 hours with 24 other men.

Mhaule told police he did not know anyone in Mozambique and that the officers refused to take his identity document into consideration.

Judge Willie Seriti said it was clear that Mhaule’s arrest and subsequent detention was unlawful.

Fish Mahlalela, provincial minister for safety and security, condemned the incident saying: ”This is an indication that some of the police personnel are still living in the past where people were harassed because of the colour of their skin.”

”The incident further strengthens the case for the call of orientation of our police officials on human-rights culture.”

Mahlalela called on all policemen to exercise caution when dealing with deportation matters and to ensure that the rights of people are respected. – Sapa