S Africa: Jordanian Held, Freed
- 'Al-Qaeda suspect' set free
23/04/2004 22:20 - (SA)
Pretoria - "You are not white enough to go to court,"
a policeman apparently told a Johannesburg man who had
just been freed after 23 days without trial.
The Johannesburg man was freed on Friday.
Mohammed Hendi, 36, of Newclare denies al-Qaeda
connections, which he said he was confronted with
He was freed shortly before the High Court was to hear
an urgent application for his release.
Hendi claims his ordeal started when he was invited by
an Egyptian man to attend a discussion and watch a DVD
on the September 11 2001 attacks in the United States.
Hendi, who was born in Kuwait, fled with his family to
Jordan during the first Gulf War. He said he had been
to a number of countries, including Germany, the
Bahamas and the United States.
He came to South Africa 2½ years ago and married a
South African woman, Serreen, in September 2002.
Men had guns, but no search warrants
He said that on April 2 his passport did not have a
stamp entitling him to be in the country, because of
negligence on the part of the department of home
affairs and a computer problem there.
On April 2, between 03:00 and 04:00, about 10 to 15
men, arrived at his house without search warrants, but
with "big guns".
Hendi was arrested and numerous documents were seized.
They also called his wife, who had been working a
night shift, to come and take care of their son.
He was taken to Moot police station in Pretoria where
he was held in handcuffs. He was later taken to
Brooklyn police station.
Hendi said no charges were brought against him. Men in
civilian clothes, who questioned him, called him a
"They never spoke to me without swearing at me."
On April 12 he and another Jordanian were taken to
Johannesburg International Airport from where they
were to be deported. The other man left the country,
but he refused - even though he was offered money, he
According to Hendi, he told an immigration officer:
"Listen my friend, I am going nowhere."
The Wits Law Clinic brought an urgent application
before Pretoria High Court on Friday for an order that
home affairs and the police either freed him or
charged him in court.
Shortly before the hearing, he was freed without any
Company has been irreparably damaged
"We are still trying to find out why he was arrested,"
said Joshua Paulson, his lawyer.
National police spokesperson Sally de Beer again
refused to comment on the case.
Beeld brought the case to the attention of Leslie
Mashokwe, spokesperson of home affairs, earlier this
"I need to familiarise myself with the facts before I
can deliver credible comment," he said on Friday.
Hendi is considering legal action. His sweet company
has been irreparably damaged in his absence and he had
to sell two cars to pay his legal bills, he said.
"I know myself. I would never do anything wrong."
Edited by Iaine Harper
Man held 'because he's Muslim'
22/04/2004 10:17 - (SA)
Johannesburg - A South Africa woman's Jordanian
husband has been held in a police cell in Pretoria for
three weeks and no one can tell her why.
More than three weeks ago, immigration officials
phoned Shareen Hendi of Westbury, Johannesburg, at
work saying they were about to arrest her husband,
Mohammed, and she should come home to look after her
Police could produce no warrant for Hendi's arrest or
for searching their home. Yet, about 20 immigration
officials, police officers and "people in civilian
clothes" confiscated documents after searching the
house and then took her husband to the police station.
Hendi is a Jordanian and has been living in South
Africa for two-and-a-half years. He and his wife were
married last year and he has a residence permit
because his wife is a South African citizen.
"He has no criminal record and even has a statement by
the Jordanian police to confirm this. He is also not
wanted in Jordan for any offence," she said on
She said her husband was questioned, handcuffed and
put in leg-irons for the first two weeks of his
incarceration at Pretoria's Moot police station.
A week ago police transferred him to Brooklyn police
station without informing her. He had to bribe a
cleaner to phone her and tell her where he was being
She suspected that he was being held "simply because
he is a foreign Muslim". No charges have been
formulated against him and no one can tell her what
will happen to him.
Two of her husband's Jordanian acquaintances were
arrested in a similar manner and have already been
deported to Jordan. A week ago, her husband refused to
get on a flight back to Jordan.
"One does not expect this type of action in a
democracy. My husband did nothing wrong."
Police denied that they were discriminating against
Muslims, and the National Intelligence Agency denied
that it was allowing foreign intelligence agents to
question the Jordanians.
The National Prosecuting Authority had not reacted to
these reports by Wednesday evening.
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