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Murdered Zimbabwean truck driver: Case lands at the International Criminal Court

ICC ‘notes’ death of Gift Msimanga, but falls short of calling for own independent investigation

 

By Sunday Express Correspondent

 

Shocking details have emerged this week of how a Zimbabwean truck driver was bludgeoned to death, his body concealed in a cold room and blood stains wiped off the crime scene in Alberton with a mop.

After The Sunday Express published the sad story of how Gift Msimanga was allegedly killed in cold blood by his employers – the International Criminal Court at the Hague has written a letter to his lawyers acknowledging that they had noted the matter – but no immediate decision had been reached on whether the matter would be officially investigated.

It also emerged this week that two of Msimanga’s former work colleagues who witnessed and shot pictures of his body slumped against the wall – are now on the run – fearing for their lives as the alleged ‘killers’ are at large and have not been arrested.

Msimanga’s death is opening up cans of worms as it took an unprecedented 40 days for post mortem results to be released – meaning that his family was not allowed to collect his body for burial, and no funeral could take place since the inquest report had not been released.

Court documents seen by The Sunday Express this week showed that truck driver Msimanga was beaten to death (with a blunt object to his head) on September 25 in an alleged case of xenophobic attack – and his matter has landed right the ICC

The matter could yet prove to be a landmark case that could lift the lid on the fate of hundreds of Zimbabwean truck drivers who are under attack in South Africa.

The court documents named the two Alberton businessmen who are running a hardware franchise in Alberton, Ekurhuleni as the prime perpetrators in the murder of Gift Msimanga.

The ICC complaint named as respondents the South African Ministers of Police, Labour and the All Truck Drivers Foundation as respondents – and show that Msimanga was attacked and beaten up by his two employers after he had been accused of theft of the company’s truck which had been dispatched to Durban – but was apparently located through satellite tracking to be somewhere on the border with Swaziland.

Msimanga was reportedly tortured overnight in Alberton on the night of September 24, and his body was filmed by fellow trucker on September 25 – with CCTV footage from the hardware factory where Msimanga worked having been curiously deleted after the murder.

Lawyers representing Msimanga’s family said that the murder of the Zimbabwean driver was symptomatic, and showed a clear co-relation between public comments made by government officials in South Africa which seemed to suggest that foreign truck drivers were not wanted in South Africa, a matter which would find currency and jurisdiction at the ICC.

Family speaks

This week The Sunday Express managed to track down the sister of the deceased – Rejoice Msimanga – and asked her:

How did you find out about what had happened to your brother?

Rejoice: l got a call from a guy who claimed to be a friend to Gift. He said that my brother had been attacked and killed in Durban. That was around 12 noon on the 25th of September. As I was still in shock, the guy called again around 1400hrs to rectify his first call. He said Gift was infact killed at his work place in Alberton by his employers due to suspicion of a deal that went wrong. That is how we found out.

Have the police or other authorities been in touch with you in terms of delays in post mortem results?

Rejoice: The authorities have not been satisfactory in the manner that they are communicating with us. The police seem very busy with the case and other cases such that when we call them we can’t find them. It has been difficult to find them despite us having their numbers, we have to go to the police station and the forensic department offices to seek information always. The police and other government authorities have not called us to update us. Communication has been tough. Going up and down to meet up with them every time – never vice versa. We call all the time, but they never call us back. It is so draining as a family and we wish we can get a reciprocative communication type of a relationship with the authorities.

In your own version, what happened to Gift on 24th and 25th of September 2020?

Rejoice: Gift was locked up in a storeroom, tortured, beaten up and killed by his employer. This is my conviction and understanding of the whole matter.

So how are you managing with funeral and burial arrangements?

Answer: We are appealing for financial assistance for transport, funeral arrangements and organising costs. Anyone who can help, it will be appreciated. The intention of the family is to bury Gift in Binga his rural home. Gift left behind his wife and two children, who have been robbed of a bread winner. We would be happy as a family to leave some money to the family for up keep purposes, school fees, uniforms, food etc

Why do you think that the post mortem has delayed for more than a month?

Rejoice: This has been one of the hardest times in the Msimanga family, living each day not knowing the outcome and report of the post mortem. We can’t grieve properly, there is no dignity for anyone’s remains to stay in a mortuary for 40 days. Having to wait without proper communication to share with relatives in Zimbabwe whilst the authorities were just silent about the whole thing. Any attempt by us to seek clarity was thwarted by the South African authorities and belittled. We are hurt, and it is very painful. Also the people who killed him are known, the police know them, so why are they not pressing for justice?

So what message would you like to convey to the authorities?

Rejoice: Gift’s case is just one in a million cases, where foreigner nationals are treated in human by employers, and left vulnerable. We are trying so hard not to make this a matter about foreign nationals and everything to do with disdain and undermine their humanity, with disgrace and at times make foreign nationals of African descent as if they are rotten at times. We plead with the South African government to apply objectively and treat foreign nationals with dignity.

We urge South African government to help us through this very difficult time in our family. The whole family will have peace when Gift I laid to rest in his rural home in Binga. We as a family are at the mercy of the South African government officials and departments to go through this ordeal. Where is Ubuntu in all this?

Is the Zimbabwe Embassy aware of your predicament?

Rejoice: Yes. We have spoken to some of the officials at the Zimbabwe Embassy and they have been keeping in touch with our lawyers. They kept us assured that the government of Zimbabwe is for us and will see us through all this.

If anyone would like to assist the Msimanga family with funeral arrangements or other help, please contact family lawyer Adv Simba Chitando at simba@graystonchambers.co.za

 

 

 

 

 

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