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Statement on the arrest of Zimbabwean clergyman Pastor Immanuel
in Zimbabwe Coalition
for arrested Zimbabwean clergyman Pastor Immanuel Hlabangana will
today launch an urgent appeal to the High Court for his immediate
had been arrested by police on the night of Friday 26/1/2007 in
Edenvale following an incident in which he and his friend Duduzile
Ndlovu were stopped and searched by police. When police arrested
Ndlovu because she said she did not have her passport on her, Hlabangana
followed to the police station where he questioned the reasons for
her arrest. He was told that he "thought he was too clever"
and he himself was promptly thrown into police cells
spent two nights
was released on bail on Sunday 28 January.
ordeal at the hands of the South African justice system took on
nightmarish proportions on Monday, 29 January when Magistrate Agenberg
of the Edenvale Magistrate’s court suggested to the prosecutor that
in addition to the charge of "interfering with police duties",
Hlabangana should also be charged with "aiding and abetting
a criminal". Arguing that this was a serious charge, the magistrate
revoked the bail that had been granted on Sunday 28th
January by the inspector on duty on that day. Magistrate Agenberg
argued that the police did not have jurisdiction to grant after
hours bail and he sent Hlabangana back into custody.
Hlabangana’s second appearance in court on Tuesday, 30 January,
the same magistrate insisted on verification of Hlabangana’s personal
particulars. Magistrate Agenberg was then provided with verification
from the Department of Home Affairs that Hlabangana’s passport and
visa were genuine as well as an affidavit from Hlabangana’s sister
that he was living in her house during his stay in South Africa.
Magistrate Agenberg then ruled that Hlabangana should remain in
custody until 5 February while police verified his physical address.
lawyer, Thabang Machacha, requested the magistrate to recuse himself
on the grounds that he had showed a high degree of bias against
the accused by revoking bail, improperly entertaining charges that
were not in the charge sheet and insisting that the state verify
the personal particulars of the accused when the state is not opposed
to bail being fixed. "In a nutshell the state is happy
with our client personal particulars as were the police when
they released him on bail that Sunday. The magistrate however is
not convinced that the senior public prosecutor and the SAPS have
done their work properly" Machacha commented.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the organisation that had engaged
Hlabangana as a short-term consultant, has described the arrest
as ‘bizarre’: "In the context of high crime and overcrowded
prisons, it is a tragedy that an innocent person should be kept
in custody at the expense of the state for five whole days simply
to give police time to verify a physical address, something that
can be done within half a day."
the High Court application is successful, Hlabangana is likely to
be released today. If not, he will spend another weekend in a South
African prison cell among scores of awaiting trial prisoners in
hopelessly overcrowded conditions.
for Human Rights in South Africa has condemned the arrest of Pastor
Hlabangana. In a statement released on 28 January, the organisation
called on the South African Police Service to "respect the
rights of foreign nationals including refugees and asylum seekers
in South Africa. Further, we call on the Department of Home Affairs
to give proper direction and assistance to police when dealing with
foreign nationals. Lastly we urge the senior management of SAPS
to investigate and ensure that those officers abusing their authority
face disciplinary action."
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in Zimbabwe Coalition fact
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