Zim group threatens SA crimes unit with international legal action
By Alex Bell
14 May 2012
A Zimbabwean human rights group has threatened South Africa’s chief crime
fighting unit with international legal action, over on ongoing probe into
the illegal renditions of Zimbabwean citizens from South Africa.
Several senior officials in the Hawks criminal unit and the South African
police were last year accused of conducting the renditions, in partnership
with Zimbabwean police. This has reportedly led to a number of Zimbabwean
‘suspects’ being arrested in South Africa and then sent across the border
illegally, and killed.
These allegations were made by South Africa’s Sunday Times newspaper, which
reported that South Africa’s Police Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, is sitting on
explosive reports listing at least three deaths of Zimbabwean nationals. The
deaths were allegedly as a result of a ‘renditions’ operation led by police
and Hawks officers.
A Hawks source has recently been quoted by South African media as saying
that the practice is still ongoing with at least eight of the unit’s members
“They are above the law. Completely untouchable. For their work several have
been promoted to senior ranks. They have links right to the top, including
politicians and senior officers,” the source was quoted as telling the Times
“Several, who are from the Hawks Tactical Operational Management Services,
are known to be linked to the murders of at least six Zimbabweans abducted
from across Gauteng, and others have been linked to the murders of South
Africans, including fellow police officers,” the source said.
Mthethwa has now said a preliminary investigation into the allegations is
almost completed. But according to the Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) this is
the first time any form of a probe has been mentioned. ZEF Director Gabriel
Shumba said he fears the allegations will be covered up.
“These renditions are crimes against humanity that include brutal assaults
on people. Yet nothing has been done to prevent this from continuing,”
The ZEF head also threatened to refer the Hawks members involved to the
International Criminal Court (ICC) if they are not brought to justice,
explaining that a thorough, credible investigation needs to done.
Shumba meanwhile explained that there has been a noticeable increase in
reports of intimidation of Zimbabwean nationals in South Africa, allegedly
by Zim police agents operating there. He said this has led to many Zim
nationals trying to flee South Africa for other countries.
The Sunday Times reported that it has evidence that Zimbabwean, Witness
Ndeya, who was suspected of shooting a policeman in his country, was
“renditioned” by the Hawks and then murdered, apparently by Zimbabwean
police. Ndeya was arrested, along with his nephew and two friends, for being
“illegal immigrants” in 2010. In a sworn statement by one of the four,
Shepard Tshuma, they were all taken to the Beitbridge border by South
African police and handed over to Zimbabwean officials who “told us that we
are under arrest for the murder of police officers.”
Tshuma and Ndeya were detained at a Bulawayo police station before the
former was released a week later. Tshuma said that a few days later the
Zimbabwean police told the family “that Witness Ndeya was killed by other
police officers.” Ndeya’s death certificate reportedly confirmed he died at
Hippo Valley Farm in Bulawayo, with the cause of death listed as “multiple
Tshuma, along with the other two surviving “renditioned” suspects, are now
hiding in South Africa, after allegedly being threatened. The Sunday Times
said that it had met the three at a secret location and they all feared
being “deported and murdered.”