Egyptian Visitors Detained Without Cause in Zimbabwe

May 13, 2024
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Two Egyptian visitors, Elgamal and Foudza, found themselves ensnared in a legal quagmire upon their arrival in Zimbabwe. Despite entering the country lawfully through the Beitbridge Border Post, they were inexplicably detained for a staggering 30 days without any formal charges laid against them. Their ordeal began shortly after their lawful entry, stretching until April 6, when they were finally released from custody.

Their plight took a dramatic turn when their case was brought before the court on April 5. Represented by their lawyer, Brighton Sadowera, Elgamal and Foudza presented compelling evidence to prove the validity of their visitors’ permits, permitting a 30-day stay in the country. The court was left with no choice but to acknowledge the legality of their permits, highlighting a stark disparity between their lawful status and the unjustified detention they endured.

The legal battle intensified as Sadowera filed an application on March 27, challenging the provisions of section 8 of the Immigration Act. This section allowed immigration officers to detain individuals arbitrarily for up to 14 days without recourse to court proceedings. Sadowera argued that such provisions flagrantly violated the rights of detained persons, as enshrined in section 50(2)(b) of the Constitution. This constitutional provision explicitly guarantees the right of every detained person to be promptly brought before a court within 48 hours of their detention.

On April 5, the case came under the purview of Justice Pisirayi Kwenda. It was here that the chief immigration director conceded to the unlawful detention of Elgamal and Foudza. The acknowledgment of this wrongful detention underscored the egregious nature of their confinement, further fuelling public outrage and legal scrutiny.

Following the court’s ruling, Elgamal and Foudza were released from custody on April 6. They were escorted by their lawyer to the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport the next day, marking the end of their harrowing ordeal. As they boarded their flight back to Egypt on April 7, questions lingered about the circumstances surrounding their detention and the broader implications for the protection of individual rights within Zimbabwe’s legal framework.