Zimbabwe police mum on illegal renditions

HARARE – Zimbabwean police have refused to state what action they took against officers who were suspected to have murdered local criminals deported from South Africa.

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ZIMBABWE POLICE

Charity Charamba

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A top policeman in SA Anwar Dramat has been suspended pending the outcome of investigations over allegations that he was involved in the illegal rendition of Zimbabweans.

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The Zimbabwean suspects were apprehended in 2011 by the now under-fire South African police and illegally handed over to the Zimbabwe authorities for allegedly shooting and killing a local police chief superintendent in 2010.

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Two of the Zimbabwean suspects were allegedly killed while in the custody of Zimbabwean police, while one is said to have disappeared without a trace. Another was said to have been tortured, according to SA press reports.

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The suspects were reportedly deported through the Beitbridge border post using forged deportation papers.

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Police spokesperson Charity Charamba declined to comment on the matter.

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“I told you I am not going to comment on that, you can write anything you want,” Charamba told the Daily News.

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“We can argue but I am not going to give you a comment. I am advising you to get a comment from the South African police, I was not even around between 2009 to 2012. Call the South African police.”

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Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), a rights advocacy group, has accused the local police of deliberately killing criminal suspects in custody.

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The lawyers have handled several cases where they said there had been a pattern in the way the killings had been conducted.

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Kumbirai Mafunda, ZLHR spokesperson, said it was worrying.

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“As ZLHR we have been inundated with several requests from relatives of victims of police brutality who have approached us seeking assistance. It is worrying that police cells are turning into death pits,” Mafunda said.

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SA’s Werksmans Attoneys last month produced a report recommending that SA police watchdog head Robert McBride also be criminally charged for allegedly tampering with evidence implicating top Hawks bosses Anwa Dramat and Shadrack Sibiya in the rendition scandal. This report had been done under the instruction of the South African minister of Police Nathi Nhleko, who is reported to have received it last week.

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According to media reports, Nhleko appointed Werksmans to investigate why findings of an Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) probe into police renditions of Zimbabweans were altered radically just days after McBride took over Ipid in March last year.

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After the 2010 shooting of ZRP chief superintendent Lawrence Chatikobo, the SA police commissioner-general declared a shoot-to-kill policy on those who kill, kidnap or attempt to run over police officers.

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During the first operation, Dumisani Witness Ndeya, Nelson Ndlovu, Maqhawe Sibanda and Shepherd Tshuma were arrested in Diepsloot and detained in Soweto. Sibanda and Ndeya were handed over to the Zimbabwe police while the others were released.

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Sibanda was later released after allegedly being tortured while Ndeya died in custody.

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During the second operation, Prichard Tshuma was arrested in Diepsloot. Tshuma was never seen again after being handed over to the Zimbabwean police. It is presumed he died under police custody.

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Another suspect, Gordon Dube was shot and injured during his arrest. The South African police also retrieved a gun that is believed to have been used in the robbery in Bulawayo, which resulted in the death of the police superintendent. Dube was transported to Beitbridge and he never returned to South Africa. – Daily News