Xenophobia: Henry Okah, others dying in South Africa, says MEND

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By Emma Amaize

WARRI-THE Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND,  on  Saturday, revealed that one of its leaders, Henry Emomotimi Okah, currently serving jail term, was    dying at Korkstad Prison in the Kwa-Zulu Natai Province of South Africa.

MEND is alleging that he is locked up in solitary confinement based on xenophobia and jungle justice.

The group, in a statement by its spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo, declaring support for the recent resolutions of the National Assembly and House of Representatives to engage the South African Parliament over the renewed spate of xenophobic attacks on foreigners in the country, particularly Nigerians, said: “The grim reality is that Henry Okah and many of his fellow compatriots in South African prisons are dying in prison.”

MEND statement read in part:

“There are hundreds of Nigerians in South Africa, who are serving various prison sentences or awaiting trial. From reports available to us, many of these unfortunate Nigerians are subjected to xenophobic attacks, as they were regularly singled out for harassment, on account of their nationality   or arbitrarily isolated in solitary confinement, by the South African prison officials.

An undated private photo obtained on October 19, 2010 from Oka’s family in Johannesburg shows Henry Okah, the former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.

“Henry  Emomotimi Okah  is a Nigerian, who is currently serving term at Korkstad Prison in the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province of South Africa. The accounts of a few individuals who have been privileged to visit him in prison are gory and unsavoury.

“He is permanently locked up in solitary confinement; a Korkstad Prison policy, which is based purely on xenophobia and jungle justice. The grim reality is that Henry Okah and many of his fellow compatriots in South African prisons are dying in prison.

“We therefore call on the Nigerian parliamentary delegation to find time to also visit various prison facilities in South Africa where they will indeed, be confronted with the real victims of xenophobia in South Africa,” it said.

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