Sexwale ‘screened, not held’
Johannesburg - The US government indicated on Monday that former housing minister Tokyo Sexwale had been subjected to “further screening” by immigration officials at JF Kennedy airport last week, rather than being arrested.
Earlier on Monday the ANC issued a statement under the headline “Arrest of Cde Tokyo Sexwale” in which it condemned “the detention of Comrade Tokyo Sexwale” by US authorities while on a trip in that country last week.
It said Sexwale was a former minister, and “a decorated freedom fighter, activist and leader of our liberation movement, not a terrorist”.
The fact that the US government continued to view members and leaders of the ANC as terrorists was “an affront to the global anti-apartheid movement”, of which many compatriots from the UN were part.
“This affront on the rights and dignity of Comrade Tokyo Sexwale necessitates an unconditional apology to him and the people of South Africa from the US administration.”
Sexwale continued his business trip to the US after the incident last week.
Jack Hillmeyer, a spokes-man for the US embassy in Pretoria, said that a law passed by Congress in 2008 had expressly exempted present and former ANC government officials from being denied entry to the US on grounds of previous terrorist activity. Any concerns about whether Sexwale was still listed as a terrorist would normally have been dealt with while his visa application was being processed – before he reached the US.
However, when any person – either a US citizen or a foreigner with a valid visa – arrived at a port of entry such as JF Kennedy, that person was still potentially subject to further screening by immigration officials.
The screening could be for a variety of reasons, including verification of identity, reaffirming the intent of their travel to the US and confirming their admissibility.
He was unable to say why exactly Sexwale had been subjected to further screening.