My friend Joseph from Zimbabwe told me this story after his release from Mpumalanga prison in January 2010
It was him and his friend traveling to Swaziland for work in his friend’s truck when they were stopped by the police who demanded that they produce their passports/ identifications. My friend had a valid Asylum permit and his friend had a valid passport which they gave to them. The police immediately confiscated their papers and took them into custody as illegal immigrants and told them that they needed to confirm that the documents are valid.
The next day they were sent to court, and the court appearance was postponed for two weeks pending an investigation.
After two weeks the case was reminded for another two weeks for the 17th November 2009; the friend managed to get the fine of R1 000 with the help of his lawyer and was released. But Joseph remained in custody to await trial.
On the 10th December 2010 he was found guilty of being an illegal immigrant and sentenced to three months in prison or alternatively a R1 000 fine. He managed to pay the R1 000 but they sent him back to prison (Hartbeeskop prison) where they told him to wait for the Home Affairs officials to depot him.
On the 07th of January 2010 the Immigration Board took him to Lindela Repatriation Centre where they checked his name and found out he was legal in South Africa as it states in his asylum document. They refused to deport him as their law doesn’t allow them. He was again sent back to the police station to collect his papers where he stayed another night and he was released the following day.
As he told me this story he was in tears as he remembered how abusive and rude our own police officers, who are supposed to be protecting us, were. These police officers didn’t even understand their own policies and their documents. As he explained further how the inmates gangsters abused and beat them for money and our police officers did nothing about it. They just encouraged them to give the gangsters money and keep quiet. He said while he was there another guy got killed by these gangsters then when his people come to release him they were told that he escaped.
Is our system this corrupt or it’s just this specific police station and prison? What is the government doing about it?
He told me that it is very difficult for them to report this kind of behavior as they are foreigners; who will listen to them?
There is question of R1 000 fine which these guys had to pay for fine when their documents were valid. Why didn’t the give them back the money after finding out that the documents were valid?
Corruption in our police department is getting worse by the day if we don’t do something about it.