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Friday, 8 June 2007


By Ntandoyenkosi Ncube

Last updated: 06/08/2007 02:30:22

GRACE Kwinjeh, a senior official for a faction of Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was on Wednesday detained at the Johannesburg International Airport moments after arriving from London.
Kwinjeh, a victim of a violent assault by Zimbabwean police in March which drew worldwide condemnation, was in South Africa for a medical review on injuries suffered during the savage beatings.
Kwinjeh, 33, is the deputy secretary for international relations in the MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai. In recent weeks, she has been living in London with friends.
Friends have expressed fears about her mental state since she was assaulted alongside MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on March 11.
Friends who spoke to New Thursday said her behaviour had become erratic in recent weeks, and she was given to "uncharacteristic behaviour".
It was not clear late Thursday if she had been released from police holding cells at the airport, with police said to be weighing two options of deporting her to Zimbabwe or back to Britain from where she took a direct flight.
MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa confirmed that Kwinjeh had been barred from entering South Africa, but the party was still seeking to establish the facts.
Chamisa charged that Kwinjeh's detention had been politicised, insisting that her visa does not expire until June 20 this year.
It was suggested that South African authorities were probably viewing Kwinjeh's activities as "work", contrary to the strict visa conditions barring holders from becoming "a prohibited or undesirable person". The guidelines also state that a visa holder "shall not conduct any work in South Africa".
Chamisa said: "Kwinjeh was arrested and detained at the airport at around 7:30am (Wednesday). We are highly exasperated by her detention considering that she is being denied entry into the country and access to doctors.
"Looking at the conditions on her visa, we can interpret that she is now an undesirable person in South Africa. We believe that her detention is being politicised since she holds a valid visa."
Immigration officials at the airport seized all her particulars including her passport amid claims that she had also been denied access to lawyers and her attempts to reach out to journalists frustrated.
An airport official, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not cleared to talk to the media, said: "There was a threat to deport her back to London late on Wednesday."
South Africa's Home Affairs spokesman Jack Mashapu confirmed Kwinjeh's detention but said the department was on strike and he was unable to assist with media enquiries.
After suffering serious injuries during the Harare beatings, Kwinjeh was flown to South Africa following a legal battle. She was admitted at the Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg. She travelled to London on her release.
Milpark Hospital spokesperson, Melony Boucher, confirmed that Kwinjeh was expected to see her doctors for medical reviews.
"Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai Holland were treated here in March and had an appointment to come and see doctors for check-up. We are consulting with doctors on how they can access her," Boucher said.


Peace and Tranquility???
Peace and Tranquility???

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