|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
HARARE, Zimbabwe — The
Herald, the relentlessly sunny pro-government
newspaper in Zimbabwe's threadbare capital, insists on its front page that
life here is on the mend. But the classifieds suggest otherwise.
An enterprising merchant named Zariro advertises 260-pound concrete slabs
for mourners to cover and protect the fresh graves of departed loved ones.
"These days when you bury your dead, you have to spend the night there,"
Preston, a 27-year-old who supports his family through black-market currency
trading, explained on a recent day. "If you don't look after the grave, the
next morning you'll come back and find the body lying on the ground, and the
Many here might call that a good analogy for Zimbabwe itself.
This nation was once one of Africa's most prosperous states. But it is
prostrate today, its vital signs flickering, asphyxiated by ever-tighter
governmental curbs on the economy and basic freedoms. Driven by desperation,
greed or simply a sense that the end is nearing, its rulers and citizens are
methodically stripping the country of its assets.
Zimbabwe has been officially off limits to foreign journalists since
February, when President Robert G. Mugabe's government pushed a law through
Parliament effectively banning outside reporters as tools of European and
American critics. But a low-profile tour of the country for 11 days this
month found no shortage of domestic critics, both black and white, and an
outright glut of human misery.
Desperate citizens here have become dark-of-night scavengers of coffins,
copper electrical cable and even aluminum street signs, now in such shortage
that finding an address is a trial.
Zimbabwe's nights are dark indeed: here in Harare, downtown street lights
are turned off for lack of foreign currency to pay South African and Zambian
If the nights are black, the days often exude an eerie surface calm. In
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second largest city, the handful of Western-style
supermarkets remain bustling and half full of goods, though prices rise so
fast that any three bottles of ketchup are likely to bear three different
price stickers. Inns reflexively hand out candles and matches to visitors to
address power failures.
But much of the calm is government-enforced, courtesy of a domestic
intelligence organization and a rural youth militia, the Green Bombers,
widely feared for its brutality.
Although it went widely unreported, hundreds of factory workers in Bulawayo
and Harare clashed violently with the police recently after trying to
protest the cruelest of ironies: Zimbabwe's soaring inflation has pushed
them into the 45 percent tax bracket once reserved solely for the rich.
A better measure of life is the fenced-off compound of the British and South
African High Commissions in Harare's suburbs, where crowds of Zimbabweans
camp out nightly, hoping to be first in line when visa offices open the next
At 7 a.m., a half-block-square area outside the South African commission is
jammed with hundreds of applicants. The crush is so great that South Africa
now requires Zimbabweans to post a bond of about $160 American dollars for a
mere two-week visa, a sizable sum intended to guarantee their return.
"I haven't had a job in two years — nobody here has a job," a 27-year-old
man, a onetime roofer who identified himself only as Moses, said as he
waited to pick up his visa recently. "I'm going to Pretoria to try to find
He is one of the lucky ones. In a ramshackle open-air market south of
Victoria Falls, hard against two camps of hundreds of shacks of scavenged
planks and cardboard, Sibangisiwe Masuku, 19, buys corn kernels at the
equivalent of $1.44 in American dollars for 2.2 pounds, grinds them into
flour and sells them for $2.24. On a good day, she makes well under a dollar
Her parents are dead — of what, she would not say. She moved in with a
sister, who died of tuberculosis last month. Now she stays with a second
sister, living on corn porridge and tea.
Zimbabwe fuel company 'runs dry'
The country's state-controlled newspaper, The Herald, quotes a source at the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) as saying: "There is not a drop of fuel here, though some is expected next week."
However, the country's Minister of Energy and Power Development Ambassador, Amos Midzi, told the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation there was adequate fuel in the country.
In August, fuel prices in Zimbabwe rose by up to 500% after the government announced it had ended price controls.
The Herald reported the lack of fuel at NOCZIM had led to ambulance fleets, army vehicles and the public transport sector becoming "paralysed".
Relatives of some sick Zimbabweans had been asked to provide their own fuel for the journey to hospital, according to The Herald.
"A medical officer at the Beitbridge Rural District Hospital confirmed having asked some relatives of sick people to refuel ambulances for their sick to be ferried to referral centres in Gwanda or Bulawayo," the paper said.
The country's fuel shortage has worsened since a trade deal with its main supplier, Libya, collapsed in November 2002.
The country is also struggling with a widespread cash shortage, inflation of almost 400% and unemployment of about 70%.
Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, blames President Robert Mugabe for the mismanagement of the economy during his 23-year rule.
Mr Mugabe blames international opponents for sabotaging the economy because of his controversial policy of seizing white-owned farms.
Copyright © 2003, Dow Jones Newswires
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP)--Four people were killed when a light plane
crashed in a densely populated Harare suburb at 9 a.m. local time (0700 GMT)
Saturday, the state broadcaster reported.
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said the pilot and two occupants
of the Beechcraft 55 aircraft and a passer-by were killed when it crashed
trying to make an emergency landing on a road in the densely populated
Kuwadzana suburb southwest of the capital.
The report said one of the four occupants of the aircraft was rushed
to hospital and two passers-by were seriously injured.
The plane was reportedly flying from Harare to the resort town of
Kariba. The names and nationalities of those killed have not been determined
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
October 18, 2003 05:52 ET (09:52 GMT)
Enough is Enough
PROMOTING NON-VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY
We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!
Illegal hunting continues.
Once again Zimbabwean farm owners are fighting the scourge of South African
meat hunters exploiting the confusion over land ownership for their own gain.
Family members of the owners of Mavimba Ranch, on the Zhovhe Dam in Beit
Bridge, report that South African hunters Lourens van Zyl and Johan Roos
were discovered Thursday evening (16 October 2003) encamped on the farm's
cottage veranda by friends who had gone to the farm for a weekend of
The South Africans, driving a Nissan Safari (registration number DZZ615N)
had arrived the day before to hunt on the property under the auspices of the
"New Settlers" but had been unable to get into the locked cottage. They had been told by Alpheus (or Alfred) Moyo, the spokesman for the settlers on the property, that the cottage key would be brought from the "former" owner of the farm. The farm owner had no knowledge of their presence on his property.
Among the South African hunters' supplies and equipment at the cottage were hunting rifles, numerous large basins and spices for processing game meat into biltong (jerky), and a large deep freeze that had been plugged into the owner's generator, all indicating that they had every intention of removing the meat back to South Africa despite the current South African moratorium on moving meat from Zimbabwe into South Africa due to the severe Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak affecting that country.
Unable to make use of the cottage, the friends returned to the owner's home to report the incident and Patti and Paul Bristow immediately went to Mavimba to confront the hunters. Van Zyl and Roos claimed that they had been shown permits to hunt that had been approved by the local National Parks representative in Beit Bridge, though they did not have copies.
There is a battery of legal requirements before foreign nationals are permitted to hunt in Zimbabwe: Land owners must apply for seasonal quotas (based on a percentage of existing game population estimates) which must be approved and stamped by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management (DNPWM); foreign hunters must, at all times, be accompanied by a licensed, registered Zimbabwean Professional Hunter who is responsible that the hunt is conducted legally and ethically; DNPWM-approved pre-hunt forms must be completed by the attending Professional Hunter stating each foreign hunter's name and address, game species and numbers to be hunted, and daily rates charged. Hunting/safari/tour operators hosting foreign clients must be registered with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (on production of, among other things, proof of public liability insurance), who take a 2% levy on daily rates earned from the hunt. If trophies are to be exported, there must be proof that payment in foreign currency was banked within two weeks of the conclusion of the hunt. It has not been established to what extent these requirements were met by these South Africans.
Van Zyl and Roos claimed that they had telephoned the District Administrator, Eddison Mbezi, and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife in Beit Bridge, who had assured them that their planned hunt on the property was legal and above board.
They said that additional South African clients were due to arrive on Mavimba on Friday to join them for the hunt, and complained that they spent "a lot" of money coming to Zimbabwe.
Mrs Bristow unsympathetically pointed out to the two hunters that her father had been forced to sell all his stud Bonsmara cattle on the property at below market value, that her brother-in-law and former manager of the property had been forced off the farm with nothing but the clothes he was wearing, and that their paltry R300 to enter Zimbabwe was nothing compared to the losses she, her family and hundreds of other farmers in a similar
position had suffered as a result of the illegal land acquisition process that the hunters like them were so unashamedly exploiting. Mrs Bristow offered them the opportunity to make a written signed statement naming individuals responsible for "allowing" them to hunt on Mavimba in order to clear their names, but they declined to do so.
Investigations reveal that National Parks Officer Mr McLean Jakobi of the DNPWM in Beit Bridge had not been contacted by the South Africans, nor did he authorise the hunt, as claimed by van Zyl and Roos. Hunting quotas and pre-hunt forms are stamped only at the DNPWM regional headquarters, in this case, Bulawayo.
The District Administrator was not available for comment.
The incident comes on the heals of a similar one in which, quite by coincidence, a Dwayne van Zyl and others were arrested in Beit Bridge for hunting illegally on Chipizi Farm in West Nicholson. Dwayne and his colleagues are being investigated not only for shooting a hippo and CITES-protected crocodile during that foray, but also for their connection to the illegal slaughter of a black rhino and two elephants on another farm
in the area. A large quantity of raw meat and game skins were confiscated from a biltong shop in Musina, owned by Lourens' father, after South African Nature Conservation
authorities were alerted to the Chipizi hunt.
Informants at Mavimba reported that Lourens van Zyl and Johan Roos hunted on
the farm some weeks ago, killing two zebra and wounding an eland. The Police and DNPWM officers went to the farm today, and a number of persons were arrested , but van Zyl and Roos have absconded and are believed to be trying to cross the Limpopo River into South Africa elsewhere than at the border post.
Three MDC security guards were today shot by Ronnie Chihota, the President of Zimbabwe Progressive Party, a local fringe Zimbabwean political party.
At 11 am today, Mr. Chihota arrived at Harvest House, the office of the Movement for Democratic Change, on Nelson Mandela Ave in Harare.
Mr. Chihota parked his vehicle, a maroon BMW, number plate CHIHOTA GP, and then rushed into Harvest House. He attempted to bypass the security guards at the desk, to avoid being searched. The security guards gave pursuit, and realized that he had a firearm.
By the time Mr. Chihota had reached the third floor, these security guards had caught up, and a struggle over the possession of the firearm ensured. During the struggle, one of the security guard, Wellington Kanyanga was shot in the chest. Two other security guards, Ambitious Muzuva and Milton Mberengwa also received firearm wounds to their legs.
During the struggle, Mr. Chihota shot himself in the hand. Finally, Mr. Chihota was disarmed, and Wellington Kanyanga was rushed to Avenues Clinic in a taxi.
The police then arrived, and proceeded to arrest Mr. Chihota. They did not handcuff Mr. Chihota, but instead asked him to accompany them. They also allowed him to check on his vehicle before leaving with them.
At the time of Mr. Chihota’s arrival, an MDC National Organizing meeting was taking place. Upon hearing shots inside the building, there was widespread panic, and people fled from the building leaving their belongings.
After arresting Mr. Chihota, police officers proceeded to illegally raid Harvest House, taking with them papers and moneys belonging to the MDC and MDC members that had fled the scene.
Mr. Chihota, as the president of the Zimbabwe Progress Party, has an office in Harvest House. However, both Mr. Ronnie Chihota and his father, Mr. Chihota Snr, have strong business links to Zanu-Pf.
The three security guards and Mr. Chihota were taken to Avenues clinic where they received treatment.
JOHANNESBURG, Oct 18 (IPS) - Don McKinnon
hopes that December's Commonwealth
summit in Abuja, Nigeria will not be dominated by Zimbabwe, but it appears
that circumstances might override that wish.
”The 54 countries want CHOGM to be about democracy and development and not
to be dominated by Zimbabwe,” said the Commonwealth secretary general, this
CHOGM is the annual Commonwealth heads of government meeting. The theme of
this year's gathering is 'development and democracy -- partnership for peace
Two countries will not be invited to Abuja. ”No invitation is going out to
Zimbabwe and Pakistan,” McKinnon told a news conference in Johannesburg.
Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth in March 2003 following
presidential elections that critics said were rigged. Pakistan was suspended
following a 1999 military coup led by Gen Pervez Musharraf, now the
Unlike Pakistan, Zimbabwe still ”evokes strong reactions and emotions”, as
McKinnon found out during his Oct. 8-15 tour of Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and
South Africa to discuss preparations for the Dec. 5-8 meeting.
In the four countries journalists bombarded him with questions about
Zimbabwe. In South Africa, almost one-half of McKinnon's conversations with
the media involved that nation.
”I haven't had any dialogue with (Zimbabwean President Robert) Mugabe for a
couple of years. That's sad,” said McKinnon.
Some Commonwealth leaders have urged the secretary general to engage
Mugabe -- a tall order according to the straight-talking former New Zealand
foreign minister. ”I can't talk to him (Mugabe) if he doesn't want to talk
to me,” McKinnon said.
It is for the people of Zimbabwe themselves to find solutions to their
problems and to determine their own destiny, he added. ”It is not for those
outside its borders to lecture, pontificate, order or direct.”
”But the international community can certainly encourage, assist,
facilitate, and when necessary remind Zimbabwe of the values to which it has
signed up. That is what the Commonwealth has sought to do and continues to
”But this means that we cannot remain silent when independent newspapers are
shut down, or when demonstrating trade unionists are beaten up,” McKinnon
said, referring to the closure of the country's only independent newspaper,
the 'Daily News', last month..
Last year the Commonwealth formed a troika -- comprising Australia, Nigeria
and South Africa -- to mediate with Mugabe's government.
”Sadly, our overtures have been spurned. President Mugabe's government has
chosen to keep us at arm's length,” McKinnon said.
But McKinnon's remarks contrast with those of President Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa, a troika member. Mbeki told U.S. President George W. Bush in July
that the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF)
and the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
MDC Secretary-General Welshman Ncube told journalists in Johannesburg this
week that the talks were bogged down by succession quarrels in the ruling
Rival factions within ZANU-PF are disputing who should succeed 79-year-old
Mugabe, ahead of the party's conference in December.
Apparently fed up with Mugabe's foot-dragging, President Olusegun Obasanjo
of Nigeria, another troika member, said after the closure of the 'Daily
News' that Zimbabwe needed a ''sea of change'' before it could be readmitted
to the Commonwealth.
This week Mugabe showed some flexibility when he approved the easing of a
tough media law against journalists. Critics say the move was designed to
improve Zimbabwe's image ahead of the Commonwealth gathering.
Under the amendment, journalists will now face criminal charges if the court
establishes that they published a story that is perceived to be offending
''intentionally or recklessly”. The amendment replaces a clause on
publishing ''falsehoods'', which the Supreme Court declared
The crisis in Zimbabwe grew between 2000 and 2003 when the government seized
land from 4,500 white farmers for distribution among landless blacks. Mugabe
said he was correcting colonial injustices that originally allowed white
settlers to grab the best lands and dump black people in barren, rocky
communal areas, not fit for farming.
Unfortunately, the land reform programme has destroyed the country's
Eight million people, more than one-half of Zimbabwe's population, now need
food aid. The nation faces shortages of fuel, sugar and bank notes.
Inflation, which is currently running at around 455 percent, is expected to
hit 600 percent by the end of the year.
McKinnon said three million Zimbabweans now live in South Africa as
refugees, 400,000 in Mozambique and 200,000 in Botswana, from which 2,000
are deported daily.
The Commonwealth, an organisation of independent states that were formerly
parts of the British Empire established to encourage trade and friendly
relations among its members, is urging Zimbabwe, as well as its less
privileged neighbours, to adopt policies that alleviate poverty.
”Figures show one-third of the Commonwealth's 1.8 billion people live on
less than one U.S. dollar a day,” McKinnon said.
About 75 million of the 113 million children out of school live in
Commonwealth countries. Last year, British Finance Minister Gordon Brown
launched a 15-million-dollar initiative to help those children go to school.
The majority of Commonwealth countries have signed the United Nations
Millennium Development Goals, one of which aims to send every child to
primary school by 2015. But unless there is a dramatic change, 88 countries,
many of them in the Commonwealth, will not meet this goal, warns a recent
World Bank report.
Another issue that will feature prominently on the CHOGM agenda is reform of
the international trade system. ”If people in Europe and the U.S. are
concerned about reducing the flow of economic refugees and if they want to
see a reduction in the disparity of world income, then they should begin by
reducing agricultural subsidies,” McKinnon said.
”The simple truth is that the EU, the U.S. and Japan have not lived up to
their commitments. It is high time the rhetoric about the benefits of trade
liberalisation starts matching the reality,” he added.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have estimated that
liberalisation of trade in agricultural products would increase developing
country exports by at least 30 billion dollars a year and possibly by as
much as 100 billion dollars.. ”This could make a real difference to the
people of Africa today,” McKinnon said.
”Sadly, everyone stands to lose from the recent breakdown in trade talks at
the WTO (World Trade Organisation) meeting in Cancun (Mexico), but
particularly the poor countries. A deal in Cancun could have added 520
billion U.S. dollars to global incomes by 2015, lifting 144 million people
out of poverty,” he added.
Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, might also be
waiting for a ”deal” from the Commonwealth, which would centre on Zimbabwe's
readmission to the organisation in December. (END/2003)
JUSTICE FOR AGRICULTURE - October 17, 2003
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMUNIQUÉ
On Wednesday our H/R's communiqué alluded to the partisan attitude of
certain members of the ZR Police and how often complainants become the
accused if they are not considered to be of the same political persuasion
as the ruling party. Well yesterdays H/R communique once again highlighted
this very serious issue.
Beatrice Mtetwa, well known and greatly respected Human Rights lawyer
called for Police help in a car jacking and instead of them helping her,
they arrested her and assaulted her in the Police car and at the Borrowdale
Police Station. Only last week a young lady was robbed at knifepoint in
her cottage and when reporting it personally at Borrowdale ZRP was told,
"ah this cannot happen in this area". The Policewoman eventually agreed to
accept a report, made a half-hearted attempt to visit the scene and then
left without even questioning the possible co-accused. Fingerprints were
very much in evidence and the point of entry, yet CID has still not visited
the scene to lift prints.
For those of you who have had the misfortune to experience this abuse of
power, or dereliction of duty, please keep a written record of the
incident, ZRP report numbers (RRB or CR), dates, and name/s of
investigating officer/perpetrator, or the person to whom the report was
made. If not now, but certainly when the rule of law is restored, these
individuals will be held accountable for their actions. The time will
Kerry Kay, JAG TEAM.
JAG OPEN LETTER FORUM
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to
firstname.lastname@example.org with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.
Letter 1: Re Farmers in Touch
I can't believe my eyes! This is two years too late for my family and
anyway JAG has been doing this very thing for more than a year already.
Letter 2: Re JAG Communiqués dated 16 October 2003
Dear JAG Team,
I receive the daily emails from you and as I am not a farmer or ex-farmer
but was born and brought up on one and have family and friends who are
lucky enough to be still farming in Zimbabwe (I am currently living in SA).
My question is, are some of these reports being forwarded to the
international press? It is hard for me to believe that what is going on in
Zimbabwe there is not more pressure from other countries to get rid of your
(our) President. I have read and heard numerous horrific stories and have
been compelled to forward these to all whom are willing to read them.
My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
By Richard Pretorius
Saturday, October 18, 2003; Page A23
BEITBRIDGE, Zimbabwe -- At a steakhouse
near the South African border, Wendy
Mutingira waits tables and watches her country implode. With inflation at
400 percent, the restaurant offers two menus -- one featuring the selection
of steaks, burgers and salads, the other listing the prices, which can
no cash, no food. There are a lot of things we are out of,"
Across the road, Abigail Maposa is among the 30 or so people waiting to
catch a ride. She will pay 8,000 Zimbabwe dollars for a lift to Bulawayo, as
she does not have a car, and the nearby gas stations haven't had any fuel
for nearly three weeks. Meanwhile, Munyardadzi Mahoro worries that his rent
soon will go up again. He shells out 17,000 dollars a month for a dwelling
that rented for 3,500 two years ago.
The Zimbabwe dollar is in free fall, the country in an apocalyptic economic
crisis. Solving it, as many Zimbabweans will tell you, begins at the top. It
also begins with the outside world turning much-needed attention to a
dictatorship whose time should be up.
Twenty-four years into his rule in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, still feared by
many of his country's citizens, is facing another disaster of his own
making. International sanctions imposed after he apparently rigged the last
election in 2002 and had the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai arrested
have thrown the country into chaos. People openly question how long the
79-year-old president can hold on to power; each day seems to bring a new
crisis or shortage of money, food or fuel.
But few here believe that Mugabe, who has hinted he might retire, will
relinquish power so easily. After all, he is building another lavish palace.
And, in one of the strange paradoxes that seem to define the continent's
politics, he was recently applauded by fellow African leaders at the start
of a development summit in Tanzania.
Playing their version of the race card, some of those same leaders voice
approval of the Mugabe government's policy of taking land away from white
farmers and redistributing it mostly to Mugabe's cronies. This has led to a
sharp decline in agricultural production, helping sow the seeds of economic
disaster and starvation. It's one thing to try to provide opportunities for
long-oppressed, poor blacks. It is another to destroy the country in doing
While some African leaders are rightly calling for an end to the economic
sanctions against Zimbabwe, their cry is not simply about helping the
country's people but also about self-preservation. Not even neighboring
South Africa, the continent's most advanced economy, can afford to take in
refugees from Mugabe's madness.
In recent weeks, Mugabe's police have shut down the country's only privately
owned daily newspaper and raided its offices, on the pretense that it had
not registered as required under the new media laws. His move to hijack
international food aid by putting his supporters in charge of distribution
should have been condemned across the globe, but the response has been so
tepid that Mugabe recently felt free to tell a South African television
station that "the majority of our people are a happy lot."
Mahoro, who works two jobs (like every other person I talked to here), would
beg to differ. When he asked a visitor to "give me your address and your
phone number," Mahoro was pleading for help in getting out of the country.
With dual South African and Zimbabwean citizenship, Luckson Maligana is one
of the few who can cross the border as they please. He says he first
realized life had gotten out of hand in Zimbabwe when he needed 35 dollars
to buy a piece of gum for his 10-year-old daughter. "I give her 100 dollars
for school and it's nothing," he says. Yet, Maligana, who works as a
security guard in Johannesburg, does hold out hope for Zimbabwe's future.
"The people here are learning a lot from what is happening in South Africa,"
he says. "There needs to be an exchange of power. It's the right time to do
so. A democracy here will be a mix of the people."
"Mugabe has to go for that to have a chance of happening," he added, echoing
the thoughts of many of his countrymen. But like Charles Taylor in Liberia,
Mugabe won't go until the noose is around his neck. The international
community has to put it there. It also must pressure African countries to
recognize that the sooner Mugabe goes, the sooner Zimbabwe will be able to
once again feed and employ its own people. When that finally happens,
customers will no longer need bags of cash to pay for meals at Wendy
Mutingira's steakhouse, and Abigail Maposa will be able to put gas in her
The writer is a copy editor for The Post's Foreign Desk.
© 2003 The Washington Post Company
Court probes closure of newspaper critical of Mugabe
State commission allowed it to operate months without license
Saturday, October 18, 2003 Posted: 0000 GMT ( 8:00 AM HKT)
HARARE, Zimbabwe (Reuters) -- A
court asked Friday why a state commission One thousand people are riding on a train that nobody wanted to catch.
The passengers have few possessions and even less hope, as they set off on
the long journey from Johannesburg up to the Zimbabwean border.
They are just a tiny number of the millions of Zimbabweans who have poured
into South Africa in recent years.
They fled Zimbabwe, and its economic collapse, hoping to make a living in
But caught without papers, they've ended up in detention as illegal
Now they're being sent back home to the very country they ran away from in
The South African authorities, struggling to cope with this huge wave of
illegal immigration, are sending about 2,000 Zimbabweans home by train each
One man spoke to me, telling me his story but asking that I didn't reveal his
real name. so let's call him "William".
He left Zimbabwe two years ago, fleeing political violence and economic ruin.
"I don't like returning to Zimbabwe, there are no jobs. I'm going back to
suffer, so I think I will try and come back to South Africa."
And the police know that many of these people will escape, given half a
chance; so there are officers in every carriage.
But the guards can't stop dramatic getaways, such as the men prepared to leap
from a moving train, risking their lives not to go back to Zimbabwe.
Some do get away but others are not so lucky. If they're caught, they're
forced back on board the train.
The train rumbles on through the night, many of its passengers so exhausted
that they carry on sleeping long after dawn.
Singing is one of the few ways in which they try to keep their morale up.
Most of the police officers guarding them are full of sympathy for the
Zimbabweans, including Officer Philip Makhubela.
"I treat them with honour and dignity. These are my brothers. I love them
Despite a journey of more than 16 hours, there are no celebrations as the
travellers approach their home country.
They disembark at the town of Masina. It's the end of the line in more ways
William is as apprehensive as everyone else as he is ordered onto a bus for
the last few miles up to the border, and there, through customs, back to
It's a homecoming with no ceremony, to a land of hunger and oppression.
allowed Zimbabwe's only private daily newspaper to operate for eight months
without a license, until it was shut down after a ruling that it was acting
outside the law.
Police shut the offices of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, publisher of
the Daily News, on September 16 after the Supreme Court ruled the paper was
illegal because it was published without the license required by strict
media laws introduced last year.
A government appointed media commission turned down the paper's subsequent
application for a license in what ANZ said was an attack on press freedom.
Michael Majuru, president of the Administrative Court hearing ANZ's appeal
against the rejection, asked Friday why the commission failed to take
corrective measures spelled out in the media laws when ANZ continued
publishing without registration.
"As from the first of January ... according to you they started operating as
an outlaw. Yet your commission allowed this to go on for eight months and 12
days," Majuru told media chairman Tafataona Mahoso, saying that could be
perceived as condoning a breach of the law.
Mahoso said the commission did not act because ANZ had filed a court
challenge on the constitutionality of the act.
The Daily News began publishing in 1999 and has been critical of President
Robert Mugabe's government as the country grapples with an economic and
political crisis widely blamed on official mismanagement since independence
from Britain in 1980.
The paper had initially refused to register for a license as a protest
against the laws, introduced soon after Mugabe's disputed re-election last
year. The laws were widely seen as being aimed at silencing government
Majuru said he wanted state lawyers to clarify whether the commission had
followed set procedures in considering the ANZ application, saying "this is
not a case where you can come up with reasons of your own to deny a
Mahoso told the court Thursday that the commission decided to shut the paper
because "we were dealing with an applicant who was not only eight and a half
months late in applying but had actually demonstrated publicly that it did
not wish to apply."
Mahoso, who writes a regular column in the state-owned Sunday Mail, denied
the commission was biased against Zimbabwe's private media, saying it had
registered other private organizations also critical of the government.
ANZ and state lawyers are expected to present closing arguments to the
Administrative Court on Sunday.
Mugabe, 79, denies mismanaging the country and in turn accuses local and
foreign opponents of sabotaging Zimbabwe's economy to punish his government
for seizure of white-owned commercial farms for landless blacks.
BBC correspondent in Johannesburg
One thousand people are riding on a train that nobody wanted to catch.
The passengers have few possessions and even less hope, as they set off on the long journey from Johannesburg up to the Zimbabwean border.
They are just a tiny number of the millions of Zimbabweans who have poured into South Africa in recent years.
They fled Zimbabwe, and its economic collapse, hoping to make a living in South Africa
But caught without papers, they've ended up in detention as illegal immigrants.
Now they're being sent back home to the very country they ran away from in desperation.
The South African authorities, struggling to cope with this huge wave of illegal immigration, are sending about 2,000 Zimbabweans home by train each month.
One man spoke to me, telling me his story but asking that I didn't reveal his real name. so let's call him "William".
He left Zimbabwe two years ago, fleeing political violence and economic ruin.
"I don't like returning to Zimbabwe, there are no jobs. I'm going back to suffer, so I think I will try and come back to South Africa."
And the police know that many of these people will escape, given half a chance; so there are officers in every carriage.
But the guards can't stop dramatic getaways, such as the men prepared to leap from a moving train, risking their lives not to go back to Zimbabwe.
Some do get away but others are not so lucky. If they're caught, they're forced back on board the train.
The train rumbles on through the night, many of its passengers so exhausted that they carry on sleeping long after dawn.
Singing is one of the few ways in which they try to keep their morale up.
Most of the police officers guarding them are full of sympathy for the Zimbabweans, including Officer Philip Makhubela.
"I treat them with honour and dignity. These are my brothers. I love them all."
Despite a journey of more than 16 hours, there are no celebrations as the travellers approach their home country.
They disembark at the town of Masina. It's the end of the line in more ways than one.
William is as apprehensive as everyone else as he is ordered onto a bus for the last few miles up to the border, and there, through customs, back to Zimbabwe.
It's a homecoming with no ceremony, to a land of hunger and oppression.