17 February 2020 – On Saturday 15th February, Eric Sambisa, Director of Nyasa Rainbow Alliance and prominent Malawian LGBTI activist was arrested and detained by the South African Police Services. Mr Sambisa entered the country on Sunday 9 February to attend the inception workshop for a new regional project promoting respect for the rights of LGBTI persons in Southern Africa.
On the evening of 15th February, Mr Sambisa was stopped by the police for an alleged traffic offence and was asked for proof of his immigration status in South Africa. He did not have his passport with him and was arrested and detained at the Edenvale police station. His return flight to Malawi is scheduled for Tuesday 18 February. The police despite having been provided with both his passport and flight ticket indicating the return details to Malawi have failed to release him. SALC’s Executive Director, Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh stated, “The South African government has granted visa-free entry to holders of Malawian passports for a period of 30 days. Mr Sambisa has been in the country for fewer than 30 days and is as a result not in violation of any immigration laws. He should never have been arrested and must be immediately released”.
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre, together with its partners in the #Out&Proud Project: Nyasa Rainbow Alliance, COSPE, CCPR, Rock of Hope and TREAT call on the South African Police Services and the Department of Home Affairs to immediately release Mr Sambisa. His continued detention is unlawful and in violation of his rights. We further call on the Ministers of Police and Home Affairs to take measures to prevent the arbitrary arrests and unlawful detentions of foreign nationals. We are grateful to Lawyers for Human Rights (South Africa) for their assistance on this case.
Contact Person: Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, Southern Africa Litigation Centre