Augustinus (Guus) Kouwenhowen leaves the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court after being released on bail of R1 million in 2017. File picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency/ANA

Cape Town - The Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) has filed an application requesting the Western Cape High Court to cancel the visa of a convicted arms trafficker and war criminal from the Netherlands.

Despite having been convicted in absentia by a Dutch court in April 2017 and subsequently failing in his June 2017 appeal to have the order of provisional imprisonment terminated or suspended, Augustinus Petrus Maria Kouwenhoven, better known as Guus Kouwenhoven, has been living in Cape Town’s Bantry Bay since 2016.

Kouwenhoven was convicted in Holland of arms trafficking in Liberia during the presidency of Charles Taylor and SALC’s director Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh said, “As an individual who has been convicted of being complicit in war crimes as well as being a fugitive from justice, Kouwenhoven cannot remain free in South Africa”. 

Ramjathan-Keogh said: “The South African authorities arrested him in 2017 but he successfully applied for release on bail. His arrest in South Africa is a significant step to hold accountable those who fuelled and profited from Liberia’s bloody civil war. Though the Netherlands has requested his extradition, the proceedings have been repeatedly postponed at the behest of and to the benefit of Kouwenhoven.”

SALC said it was concerned that the Home Affairs, despite being aware of this case for more than two years, has failed to take steps to cancel his visa. 

“The director-general of Home Affairs must immediately cancel Kouvenhoven’s visa and declare him “undesirable” under the Immigration Act.”

SALC said Kouwenhoven did not qualify for a port of entry visa or any other visa, admission into the Republic or a permanent residence permit.

In her founding affidavit Ramjathan-Keogh wrote: “He leads an extravagant care-free life in an upmarket Cape Town suburb, unrepentant for the thousands of deaths and atrocities he is responsible for. 

“SALC filed this application to ensure that this war criminal and fugitive from justice cannot retain his immigration status to remain in South Africa and seeks to facilitate both the withdrawal of his visa and departure from the country to ensure that he should commence serving the 19-year sentence handed down to him in the Netherlands,” said Ramjathan-Keogh.

Last month, Kouwenhoven lost a case in the Western Cape Division of the High Court where he had sued the police minister, the Director of Public Prosecutions for the Western Cape, the justice and correctional services minister, the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court and the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court to set aside a December 2017 arrest warrant in terms of the Extradition Act of 1962.

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Cape Argus