American Fined for Escaping Custody in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s leading daily newspaper

by Motoni Olodun

An American national who escaped from lawful custody in Zimbabwe last year has been fined $500 by a Harare magistrate. He pleaded guilty to the charge of escaping from custody and apologized for his actions.

The man, Identified as John Smith, was arrested in November 2023 for overstaying his visa and violating the immigration laws. He was detained at the Harare Central Police Station, awaiting deportation to the United States.

However, on December 1, 2023, he managed to slip out of the police station unnoticed, and fled to a nearby hotel. He was later tracked down and rearrested by the police, who found him hiding in a room.

The prosecutor told the court that Smith had no valid passport or visa, and that he had entered Zimbabwe illegally in 2019. He said that Smith had been working as a journalist for an online publication, without accreditation from the relevant authorities.

Smith’s lawyer said that his client had escaped from custody because he feared for his life and safety, as he had received threats from some unknown people. He said that Smith had no intention of breaking the law, and that he had cooperated with the police after his arrest.

The magistrate said that Smith had committed a serious offense, which could have jeopardized the security of the country and the relations between Zimbabwe and the United States. He said that Smith had shown remorse and had no previous convictions, and therefore he decided to impose a fine instead of a custodial sentence.

Smith paid the fine and was released from custody. He is expected to be deported to the United States soon, after the immigration department processes his papers.

Zimbabwe has tightened its immigration and security measures, following reports of foreign nationals engaging in illegal activities and interfering in the internal affairs of the country. The government has also warned the media and the public to be wary of fake news and propaganda from some external forces, who are bent on destabilizing the country and undermining its sovereignty.


Source: The Herald

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