African peace delegates held hostage in Poland


Poland has become an unexpected and troubling backdrop for a distressing event. African peace delegates, along with journalists, who were engaged in brokering a peace deal between Poland and Russia, were held hostage for over 20 hours by an unidentified group within the country.

This unforeseen incident has sent shockwaves throughout the African community and sparked concerns about the safety of diplomatic negotiations. Delegates from South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party have condemned Poland, accusing the Polish government of being “anti-African.

The South African Airways (SAA) flight carried over 100 people including military personnel who are part of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s security detail and journalists covering his trip to Ukraine and Russia for peace talks.

The group was held hostage for over 20 hours after being barred from disembarking from their plane at Warsaw Chopin Airport in Poland because they failed to produce original documents for the weapons which they have carried.

“We landed at the Warsaw Chopin Airport in Poland at around 13:30 on Thursday. We weren’t allowed to disembark. It’s now 14:07 on Friday. Can you imagine what it feels like?” tweeted Journalist Amanda Khoza who is part of the group.

Another Journalist in Poland, Samkele Maseko said the Polish Authorities wanted to seize the weapons which the South African military personnel are carrying.

This afternoon, the group of South Africans was told that they would be allowed to leave Warsaw for another part of Poland but they were told disembark from the plane and make accommodation arrangements.

Ramaphosa who also arrived in Poland on Thursday paid a courtesy call to Polish president Andrzej Duda before the dramatic scenes unfolded on the tarmac of the airport. He later travelled to Ukraine where he met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy together with other African leaders from Zambia, the Comoros, Congo Brazzaville, Egypt, Senegal and Uganda. On Saturday, the African delegation will engage with President Putin on Saturday.

Head of the presidential protection services Maj-Gen Wally Rhoode has since accused the Polish government of “deliberately sabotaging” Ramaphosa’s peace initiative. He described as “racist” the behavior of some officials.

EFF Member of Parliament Mbuyiseni Ndlozi also criticized Poland in a tweet saying: “There’s no two way about it, the Polish government is anti-African! You couldn’t treat people in the way they did those South Africans, holding them in a plane for over 24 hours without access to water, food & other basic human needs! Not even prisoners are treated like that!”

However, Poland has defended itself saying the South African delegation failed to comply with standard entry procedures required by the Polish side.

“Dangerous goods were on board the plane which South African representatives did not have permission to bring in. In addition, there were persons on board the aircraft of whose presence the Polish side had not been notified beforehand,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Poland said ina statement.

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