Ghana deports 3 South African ex-cops over crime charges amidst opposition

By Dasmani Laary

Posted on March 29, 2016 14:14

Three former South African police officers were on Tuesday deported from Ghana days after the were charged with conspiracy to commit crime, unlawful training and making a false declaration.

The three were allegedly in the West African country at the behest of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), which wanted them to train the party’s leader, Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, and his deputy, Mahamudu Bawumia’s security personnel.

When the three appeared before a circuit court, they were granted bail but Ghana’s Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) continued detaining them, triggering an outcry from the NPP, the country’s main opposition party.

The court said after considering the circumstances and the facts, it believed granting the suspects bail would not interfere with investigations, but shortly after the ruling, the BNI whisked them away into custody, after their plea for more time to conduct thorough investigations into the accused’s backgrounds was rejected by the court.

Prosecutors confirmed the accused – Ahmed Shik Hazis (54), Denver Dweyhe (33) and Mlungiseli Jokani (45) – had all served in the South African Police Services, but had retired.

They were reportedly picked up for training 15 people in various security drills including armed and unarmed combat, weapon handling, VIP protection techniques and rapid response manoeuvres.

Prosecutors say the three applied for visas at the Ghana High Commission in South Africa between January and March to do business in the West African country and had also filled disembarkation forms at the Ghana Immigration Service indicating their business motive.

However, the security agents said they received a tip off that a few days after their arrival, the three were training 15 people in military tactics at Agona Dunkwa in the central region.

South African high commission officials were last week allowed to interrogate the former cops, and told local media they would forward information gathered by their national security agency in Pretoria.

The arrest has triggered mixed reactions. Some security experts are urging vigilance and thorough investigations into the matter, but the opposition NPP on Monday demanded their immediate release, describing their confinement as “unlawfully and assault” on the country’s constitution.

“For the BNI, and any other police institution for that matter, to have the liberty to disobey the lawful orders of a court, which has the constitutional powers to protect our freedom, is a serious assault on our constitution, democracy and security as a people,” NPP official, Ishmael Ashiettey, told journalists at a news conference on Monday

Many have raised safety concerns – ahead of the November elections – that political party leaders should be afforded state security details, but it seems the public have no confidence in the neutrality and professionalism of government agents.

Ghana’s top security chiefs earlier this month warned residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious characters after terrorists’ attacks killed 16 in neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire’s three beach resorts, while in January, a similar attack at a hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso also claimed 28 lives and injured 56.

The three were retired police officers were deported were on Tuesday morning aboard a South African Airways flight number 210 to Johannesburg.

Immigration and BNI officials escorted the three to the aircraft, after their entry visas were revoked by the Ghana Immigration Service.

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