The South African Government has protested the arrested and deportation of two of their nationals who were directors in Armcor Security Company.
The two directors Jan Paxtson and Basil Mark Pietersen were rounded up at different intervals by the Immigration officials before they were detained at an unknown place pending deportation.
The duo was later this month expected to be witnesses in a court case in Lusaka.
Company general manager and acting managing director Mike Musonda confirmed this to the Daily Nation yesterday, saying the arrest and
possible deportation of the company’s directors was a threat to the future of the company.
And the South African High Commission in Zambia also confirmed the arrest, saying they have engaged the Zambian government on the matter.
An official, who did not want to be identified, said the commission was worried about the continued harassment of its citizens doing business in Zambia.
“This is not the first time Mr. Paxtson has been arrested and deported to South Africa. We are very concerned especially that the Zambian government is the one that issues his work permit. As the High Commission, we are aware that he (Mr Paxtson) renewed his permit on 1st July, 2014 and just yesterday he was arrested pending deportation. But we are engaging government to resolve the matter as soon as possible,” he said.
Efforts to get an official comment from a Mr. Ngwanya from the commission proved futile as he kept referring the matter to Ms Caroline Makupula whom he said was handling the matter.
Mr. Musonda explained that Mr. Pietersen, who is company operations director, was confronted by Immigration Department officials at about 13:30 hours on Tuesday who were demanding for his work permit.
He said it was not clear why they had picked Mr. Pietersen after which they went to the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) offices where Mr. Paxtson was having a meeting with officials in the tax department. He too was apprehended and taken away.
“These officers shifted camp to ZRA officials despite furnishing them with the work permits details for both officials which were just renewed a month ago. We are shocked that Jan Paxtson has been an issue here in Zambia and his arrest and detention at an unknown destination is affecting the operations of the company.
“The stability of the company in Zambia is now under serious threat, we don’t know whether it is continuing or closing up. Why can’t government state whether Mr. Paxtson is a security risk to this country rather than mistreating him like this? We thought after the first deportation and before they could renew his work permit all the security wings had investigated him thoroughly and cleared him to run a security firm,” said Mr. Musonda.
Another senior officer at Armcor told the Daily Nation that the arrest of Mr. Paxtson and Mr. Pietersen and their deportation was a plot to delay one of the matters before the courts of law which was coming up on 26th September where Mr. Pietersen was a key witness.
The official said people involved where scheming to have the duo deported before he testified.
“We are shocked that even after we gave them all the details they wanted they have gone ahead to detain our directors. No one is aware about the place where they have been taken. But the information we have is that they were last night taken to Ndola. The Immigration Department has even denied the officials access to their lawyers,” he said. A check at Armcor headquarters along Kachiza Road in the Light Industrial area found workers protesting and breaking windows of the building when word went round that their directors had been deported.The workers demanded, among other things, the payment of their salaries and other benefits.
“This company is going nowhere after the deportation of the two directors. So let government pay us our money because they have deported our bosses,” said one worker. Quick action by police in riot gear prevented the workers from causing more damage to property at the company.Meanwhile, one of the Immigration officers said they were following instructions to have the two Armcor directors arrested pending deportation. The two directors were later around 22:00 hours on Tuesday night taken out of Ridgeway police post and driven to an unknown destination. The two officials were deported yesterday.