Roy Bennett fears ‘execution’

JOHANNESBURG – Senior Zimbabwean opposition member Roy Bennett fears persecution from Zimbabwean state agents even while in South Africa waiting to appeal against his asylum rejection, he said in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

“Yes, I do fear from persecution from the Zimbabwea

n state agents in South Africa,” he told a Foreign Correspondent Association meeting.

Former Movement for Democratic Change MP Bennett fled to South Africa in March after being implicated in an arms find in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

His asylum application was rejected by the South African Department of Home Affairs on the grounds he did not face persecution in Zimbabwe.

An extract from his letter of rejection read: “There is really no evidence indicating that you’re [sic] questioning or prosecution by the authorities would amount to persecution. Surely the courts in Zimbabwe are impartial and are able to assert the rights of individuals. [MDC leader] Morgan Tsvangirai’s recent trial is the case in point; on October 2005 he was acquitted of treason.

“Therefore, objectively, on the fact apparently prevailing there is no real risk of you being persecuted should you go back to your country of nationality.”

Bennett continued: “The threat of abduction, [being] taken back to Zimbabwe, the threat of execution, the threat of it looking like a robbery, those are the threats my family and myself face here in South Africa.”

Bennett told the South African Press Association that he denied being involved in the arms find.

“It is absolute rubbish.”

He said the South African government needed to recognise the MDC as the official opposition.

“We can’t be pushed aside, we are the legitimate opposition in Zimbabwe.”

He would remain in South Africa while his appeal was heard. – Sapa

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