WASHINGTON DC —
One more high-ranking police official has been suspended in South Africa over the illegal rendition of Zimbabweans in 2010, bringing to three suspensions over the issue so far.
Some of the Zimbabweans who were illegally handed over to Zimbabwean authorities were allegedly killed by the Zimbabwean police.
Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko said he wants every officer who was involved to face the full might of the law and heads have started rolling.
In this case of rendition, which is illegal here, South African police kidnapped and illegally transferred the Zimbabweans to the Zimbabwe Republic Police.
Now heads have started to roll as the long arm of the law searches for those who facilitated the renditions. The first two top law enforcement officers to be suspended were Anwa Dramat, National Head of the Hawks and Lieutenant General Shadrack Sibiya, Head of the Hawks in Gauteng, both for allegedly facilitating the renditions.
And now the Head of Independent Police Investigative Directorate, Robert MacBride, has been suspended, also in connection with the rendition saga.
Police Minister Nhleko said it is time for those involved to account for their actions.
“We need to know, what happened, how it happened and why, because all of the allegations that are contained therein, are allegations in a sense that are committed in the name of South Africans,” he said.
Zimbabwean freelance journalist Mxolisi Ncube, who claims he is living in fear after being accused in the Zimbabwean State media of being Baba Jukwa, says investigations into the renditions will restore foreigners’ confidence in the South African police.
“We need to see these people being punished if they are found guilty. They have to face the music. They have to be taken to the court of law. They have to be tried for whatever they did. According to me, considering that two of the people that were renditioned, died in the process, I think these people have to be tried for murder because they are the ones that took these people who were hiding here in South Africa believing that it was a safe place for them,” says Ncube.
Another Zimbabwean Mlungisi Tshabalala says by investigating these illegal actions of the police, South Africa is setting a good example for the African continent.
“This is a step in the right direction and we salute the minister for that. An arrested person should be charged, and taken to the South African courts and the courts decide if there is need for extradition. Kidnappings and illegal renditions are criminal activities and those involved must be severely punished,” says Tshabalala.
Up to 15 politically-outspoken Zimbabweans seeking refuge in South Africa have reportedly disappeared without a trace and activists believe they are also victims of the renditions.
The rendition saga came to light when one Witness Ndeya, his nephew Shepard Tshuma, and two of their friends were arrested in 2010 for being illegal immigrants.
Tshuma says they were taken to Beitbridge border post where they were handed over to the Zimbabwean police who accused them of having killed a police officer before they left Zimbabwe. Ndeya was later reportedly found dead with multiple gunshots but it is not clear if he was killed by the police.
Now activists are calling on Zimbabwean Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi to institute an investigation and punish the Zimbabwean police officers who worked with their South African counterparts in allegedly carrying out this horrendous act.