Detained Zimbabweans still unhappy over food

2009-04-16 00:00

Zimbabwean refugees who have been detained at the Central (Loop Street) and Mountain Rise police stations for two weeks have complained of mistreatment by police.

A woman who asked not to be named went to the Central station with her husband on Saturday to give the refugees some food, toothbrushes and soap, but they were turned away.

“We were told by the police that Home Affairs had taken them there and were responsible for them, and they were just using police facilities and were therefore not criminals,” she said.

A refugee who is still detained at Central alleges that they are not given enough food. “We are very hungry here. That is our main complaint. We get two slices of bread and half a cup of tea in the mornings, and two slices of bread and soup in the afternoon and evenings.”

“A lot of the policemen treat us well here. They sympathise with us and understand that the situation we are in is a hard one,” he said.

The refugees have been given back their cellphones after they were taken away when they were first detained.

Edward Kiraku (31), who was detained at the Mountain Rise police station, said conditions there are slightly better than those at Central. “We received tea and bread (one slice) in the mornings and two scoops of maize and beans in the afternoons and evenings,” he said.

Kiraku was let out on Friday last week after Judge Isaac Madondo ordered Home Affairs to release him from custody. He was also issued with a five-year extension to his work permit.

Kiraku has been in South Africa since June last year, and worked in Pietermaritzburg as a bricklayer. He has a wife and child. His wife was not arrested, as she had her papers with her.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said the detainees at the police stations are treated according to approved standards and provided with meals accordingly.

Themba Chidorise of Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change said Home Affairs has promised the refugees will be freed and their applications for extensions on their permits will be addressed.

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