By Loughty Dube
A FORMER South African spy who was detained in the country after being accused of masterminding attacks against African National Congress (ANC) members i
n Harare in the 1980s has fled the country after state security agents began investigating his stay here.
The alleged spy, Richard Peter Woodcroft, was on Tuesday given a single day to produce documents pertaining to his stay in Zimbabwe but reportedly fled the country the same day as the net was closing in on him.
Immigration officials in Bulawayo on Wednesday confirmed that Woodcroft, a former South African Defence Forces agent, had escaped and was believed to have crossed the border into Botswana.
“He has skipped the country and we have established that he crossed into Botswana yesterday (Tuesday) night but he will not be allowed back into the country,” said a senior immigration officer in Bulawayo, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Woodcroft spent 18 months in detention in Zimbabwe for alleged complicity in the May 1986 raid by South Africans on ANC establishments in Harare.
Woodcroft was arrested by the country’s Central Intelligence Organisation after vehicles used by South African raiders were traced to him.
According to the state then, South African raiders, masquerading as tourists, had before the raid approached Woodcroft to supply them with vehicles to be used as get-away cars.
Immediately after the raid, the vehicles were found abandoned at a deserted airfield from which the raiders made good their escape.
Woodcroft entered Zimbabwe last year under the pretext that he wanted to invest in the country but was not cleared by the state security agencies.
Three other South Africans who were also involved in terrorist attacks against the ANC were released last month after spending 18 years in prison.