Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe returned home on Saturday after medical treatment in Singapore, the state broadcaster said, putting to rest speculation over the 93-year-old’s whereabouts.
The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said Mugabe, who left for Singapore last Saturday, “had eye surgery in the Asian country a few years ago” and had returned for a “routine medical check-up”.
Mugabe, in power since Zimbabwe’s independence from British colonial rule in 1980, is his party’s presidential candidate for next year’s elections despite concerns over his age and fitness to rule.
ZBC later reported that Mugabe’s wife Grace was injured in an “freak car accident” involving her motorcade at Harare airport as she returned with the president.
“(She) suffered some soft tissue bruising on the right ankle as a result,” ZBC said, adding that she did not suffer any major injury and was discharged from hospital shortly after the incident. It is unclear exactly how Grace’s ankle was injured.
This week’s trip there is Mugabe’s third there this year.
Public hospitals in Zimbabwe often suffer from chronic shortages of drugs and staff as the economy has struggled to rebound following years of mismanagement.
Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party was forced to postpone a rally on Friday at which he was due to address supporters, triggering speculation about his whereabouts.
Early in 2015, he tripped and fell as he left a podium after addressing supporters who had gathered at Harare airport to welcome him back from a foreign trip.
The same year he also read a speech to parliament apparently unaware that he had delivered the same speech before.
Mugabe’s party is sharply divided over his succession. Vice-president Emmerson Mnangagwa and Mugabe’s wife Grace are seen as likely contenders to take over in the event of his death or retirement.
Opposition parties have formed a coalition to fight Mugabe’s party in next year’s vote.
Rwandan authorities have summarily executed “at least 37” people accused of committing minor criminal offences, instead of prosecuting them, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.
The government in Kigali denies that any extrajudicial killings took place.
Most of the alleged victims were accused of theft – in one case stealing bananas.
Others were accused of smuggling marijuana, illegally entering the country, or using illegal fishing nets.
Human Rights Watch says the executions took place between July 2016 and March 2017 in western Rwanda.
They believe it is part of an official strategy to “spread fear, enforce order and deter any resistance to government orders or policies”.
Witnesses told HRW the fate of one man, accused of stealing a cow, was decided in a community meeting. Fulgence Rukundo was questioned about the stolen cow, then taken to a community meeting with the district mayor.
One witness described what happened next:
“When the meeting was finished, the soldiers walked Fulgence to a small field near a banana plantation. There were many of us following; some were primary students.
We wanted to see what would happen… A soldier told him to stand up and walk, and another soldier told us to leave. At that moment, I heard three shots.”
The report by HRW also alleges that, in another case, two men were killed by civilians after local officials encouraged them to do so.
In a tweet, Rwanda’s Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye rejected the report outright:
Mr Busingye has declined the BBC’s request for an interview.
HRW has previously accused Rwanda of rounding up thousands of street children and sex workers and putting them in illegal detention centres – the government also denied these allegations.
It was called “Morning Tea” – a brutal flogging with a hosepipe.
Every morning for four months, Seun Femi’s captors beat him at a makeshift prison in Libya.
“They would flog my head, my hands, my bum,” says the 34-year-old. “The guard would beat me until he got tired.”
Two of Seun’s fingers were broken during one of the brutal sessions. But the Nigerian says it could have been far worse. One man was beaten to death in front of him.
“I thought I was going to die in that prison,” he says.
Seun was one of the tens of thousands of West Africans who cross the Sahara Desert into Libya every year, from where they hope to be trafficked by boat to Europe.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates there are between 700,000 and one million people in Libya awaiting their chance to cross the Mediterranean.
It was always a dark and desperate journey but now appears to be increasingly dangerous as undocumented migrants fall prey to militias and criminal gangs in war-torn Libya.
Earlier this year, the IOM reported that African migrants were being sold by their captors in “slave markets” in the south-western Libyan city of Sabha.
It was in the same city that Seun says he was held with about 300 other African migrants for ransom.
“We thought the traffickers were taking us to a place to stay and not a place to lock us up,” he says.
Seun says a hunchbacked Libyan called Ali ran the makeshift prison.
It was a half-constructed building. The male migrants, mainly from Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal, were separated into large rooms, each called a ghetto. Seun was held in the Nigeria ghetto.
In two of the ghettos, called Ghana and VIP (for very important person), the guards would extort a higher ransom in order for the migrants to be freed.
“We were packed on the floor like sardines when we tried to sleep,” says Seun.
There was little food but enough bottled water as otherwise the migrants would die of thirst in the stifling heat.
The brutal business model was simple, says Seun. Guards with nicknames like “Rambo” would beat the migrants and then hand them a phone.
“They would let us phone our people once a day,” he said. “They would whip us while we were on the call so our families would get the message. We would beg them to send us money.”
On Tuesday, the Italian authorities said they had arrested a notorious human trafficker known as Rambo on charges of torturing and killing migrants but it is not possible to verify whether it was the same man.
‘He helped me’
Seun needed to a pay a ransom of approximately $500. It was to be deposited in a bank account in Nigeria. But he did not have the money. He urged his ex-girlfriend to sell his car.
“It was in bad shape. It took three months for her to sell it,” says Seun. “There were no buyers.”
The irony is that Seun, a taxi driver, had no money to repair the vehicle in the first place, which is why he decided to go to Libya.
His ransom was finally paid last December. Seun thought he was free.
But then he was told he needed to pay a “gate-fee” of approximately $50. He had no money. But a Nigerian baker who sold bread at the prison took pity on him and paid the fee.
“He helped me a lot by taking me out of that place – it’s bad, very bad,” says Seun.
Seun then paid the man back by working in his bakery for several weeks in Sabha.
He then pushed on to Tripoli but was detained by Libyan police earlier this year and held at a detention centre. He was repatriated to Nigeria in April.
Now back in Lagos, he has no work, and rents a small dark room in one of the city’s sprawling slums. He is trying to piece his life back together.
He hopes to raise cash to buy a car and work as a taxi driver again. He wants to move to a better area so his young daughter can visit. He regrets ever setting out to Europe.
“The desert is such a dangerous place,” he says. “Many people died on the way. No-one should follow that path.”
Parliament – Three suspected drug mules and three people suspected of smuggling counterfeit goods into South Africa were nabbed at the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg over the long weekend, the South African Revenue Service said on Tuesday.
The first arrests were made on Thursday when customs officials “intercepted 10 bags and three boxes with counterfeit goods estimated at R4.2 million”.
“Three passengers from Hong Kong via Nairobi were linked to the 10 bags and 3 boxes filled with designer wrist watches, footwear and tracksuits. They have since been handed over to the counterfeit team and brand holder attorneys,” Sars said in a statement.
A third passenger was linked to three abandoned parcels containing 3kg of cocaine worth over R800 000.
All three passengers and goods were handed over to the South African Police for further investigation.
A ceasefire agreement has been signed in Rome between the government of the Central African Republic (CAR) and rebel groups in the country.
The truce, which takes effect immediatel, will see armed groups in the CAR included in the political process in exchange for ending attacks.
The agreement was brokered by the Sant’Edigio Catholic Community in the wake of several years of sectarian violence between mainly Christian and Muslim militias, and the deployment of a long-running United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country.