Wednesday, October 30, 2013

United States Denies Arresting Former South African Government Official

Sexwale ‘screened, not held’

October 29 2013 at 11:55am
By Peter Fabricius
South African Independent

Johannesburg - The US government indicated on Monday that former housing minister Tokyo Sexwale had been subjected to “further screening” by immigration officials at JF Kennedy airport last week, rather than being arrested.

Earlier on Monday the ANC issued a statement under the headline “Arrest of Cde Tokyo Sexwale” in which it condemned “the detention of Comrade Tokyo Sexwale” by US authorities while on a trip in that country last week.

It said Sexwale was a former minister, and “a decorated freedom fighter, activist and leader of our liberation movement, not a terrorist”.

The fact that the US government continued to view members and leaders of the ANC as terrorists was “an affront to the global anti-apartheid movement”, of which many compatriots from the UN were part.

“This affront on the rights and dignity of Comrade Tokyo Sexwale necessitates an unconditional apology to him and the people of South Africa from the US administration.”

Sexwale continued his business trip to the US after the incident last week.

Jack Hillmeyer, a spokes-man for the US embassy in Pretoria, said that a law passed by Congress in 2008 had expressly exempted present and former ANC government officials from being denied entry to the US on grounds of previous terrorist activity. Any concerns about whether Sexwale was still listed as a terrorist would normally have been dealt with while his visa application was being processed – before he reached the US.

However, when any person – either a US citizen or a foreigner with a valid visa – arrived at a port of entry such as JF Kennedy, that person was still potentially subject to further screening by immigration officials.

The screening could be for a variety of reasons, including verification of identity, reaffirming the intent of their travel to the US and confirming their admissibility.

He was unable to say why exactly Sexwale had been subjected to further screening.

Foreign Editor

US aware of SA cadres on terror list

October 28 2013 at 02:43pm
By Murray Williams
The Star

Cape Town - The US State Department is aware South African freedom fighters remain - wrongly - on its “terrorist lists”.

This was confirmed today by South Africa’s Ministry of International Relations and Co-operation after businessman Tokyo Sexwale was detained last week while entering the US.

Sexwale a billionaire and former Robben Island prisoner, has long served as a senior leader of the ANC, as premier of Gauteng and as human settlements minister.

Sexwale was arrested and detained by immigration control last week at JF Kennedy Airport in New York.

His lawyer, Leslie Mkhabela, was quoted by SABC saying: “They alleged he posed a threat to international security.”

SABC US correspondent Sherwin Bryce-Pease tweeted that former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool, now ambassador to the US, reported that Sexwale had been released only after the embassy’s intervention with the US State Department.

It was further suggested that Rasool might advise Sexwale on what court action he could take in the US to force Congress to strike South African struggle veterans from the “terrorist list”.

International Relations’ Clayson Monyela told the Cape Argus on Monday the government had made “repeated” requests to its US counterparts, who were clearly in need of “reminding”.

“They’re aware of it,” he said.

Monyela said representations had been made to the Americans under presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

Bryce-Pease explained from the US in a tweet: “Amb Rasool says appears no longer sufficient to alert authorities ahead of time to activate override when VIP visits USA.”

The Guardian quoted Mkhabela explaining Sexwale’s intentions: “He has instructed us to take the matter up with the authorities of the US, so we will address the letter to the US embassy in South Africa.”

At the time of publication, however, US embassy spokesman Jack Hillmeyer said they had no comment.

Cape Argus

ANC fumes over Sexwale US arrest

October 28 2013 at 07:49am
By Piet Rampedi and Lebogang Seale

Businessman and anti-apartheid stalwart Tokyo Sexwale was arrested in New York

Johannesburg - The ANC has expressed outrage at the brief arrest of former Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale in America because his name remains on a US terror watch list of ANC “terrorists”.

Spokesman Keith Khoza said on Sunday night that while the ANC was not aware that the list still existed, South Africa would need to take up the matter “sharply” with President Barack Obama’s administration.

Sexwale was arrested at JF Kennedy Airport while on a business trip to New York last week.

This was because his name was still on a list of people banned in America. The apartheid regime classified the ANC, of which Sexwale is a member, as a terrorist organisation until it’s unbanning in 1990.

Former anti-apartheid activists, including Nelson Mandela, had been banned from the US.

The ban was lifted in the late 1990s, but not everyone was removed from the list.

The spokesman for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, Clayson Monyela, confirmed that Sexwale was arrested in the US, but said the detention was only for a few hours.

“What we heard is that the incident (arrest) happened last week and he was detained only for a few hours. We called our consulate in the US and they said they were aware. We haven’t been told why he was detained.”

“He is in the USA. He left some time last week. I am struggling to get hold of him,” Sexwale’s personal assistant, Eureka Smith said.

She promised to get back to The Star once she had managed to contact him, but she had not done so at the time of going to print.

It is understood that Sexwale has since returned to the country.

He has reportedly instructed his lawyer, Lesley Mkhabela, to take up the matter with the US embassy.

Khoza said the ANC was not aware of the arrest, but would immediately take up the matter.

“If the arrest has been as a result of his activities in the struggle against apartheid, I think it’s a matter that South Africa will need to raise sharply with the US because nobody can be arrested for matters that are purely South African in terms of the struggle against apartheid and the role people played in challenging apartheid,” said Khoza.

“What we know is that we have moved away from that. Everybody embraces the ANC and everybody accepts the Struggle that was waged by the ANC. So we are not aware that they still have that list”.

A Department of International Relations and Co-operation official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the media, said that arrangements were made recently to remove Sexwale from the US terror watch list.

“He has been on that US terror watch list for a long time. In fact, there were arrangements to remove him. Remember, in the past, people who received training from outside the country were put on that list. They were listed there and when the amnesty was granted, they were never removed,” said the source.

He added that Sexwale’s name was “unfortunately” not on the list that was circulated for clearance alongside that of Mandela.

Madiba’s name was removed from the terror watch list after former US president George W Bush signed a bill clearing him and other ANC leaders. Until then, they required a waiver from the US Secretary of State before visiting the US, a move once described by former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as “rather embarrassing”.

The Star

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