SA rights group asks court to cancel visa of Dutch arms trafficker
The Southern Africa Litigation Centre has filed an application requesting the Western Cape High Court to cancel the visa of convicted arms trafficker and war criminal Guus Kouwenhoven.
Kouwenhoven‚ a 77-year-old Dutch national‚ has been resident in South Africa since December 2016 when he fled the Netherlands.
The centre said Kouwenhoven was convicted of arms trafficking in Liberia during the presidency of Charles Taylor.
In April 2017‚ Kouwenhoven was convicted by the Court of Appeal in Den Bosch‚ the Netherlands‚ of co-perpetrating the illegal supply of weapons to the regime of Taylor between 2001 to 2003‚ and of participating in war crimes committed by Liberian forces during 2000 to 2002.
He was sentenced to 19 years in jail.
The Dutch authorities then sought a warrant for his arrest from South African authorities‚ and he was arrested at his home in Bantry Bay‚ Cape Town‚ on December 8 2017.
He was released on bail on December 19 that year and remains out on bail.
The centre’s director‚ Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh‚ said as an individual who had been convicted of being complicit in war crimes, as well as being a fugitive from justice‚ Kouwenhoven could not remain free in SA.
Ramjathan-Keogh said Kouwenhoven led an extravagant life in an upmarket Cape Town suburb and was unrepentant for the thousands of deaths and atrocities for which he was responsible.
The centre said it filed its application to ensure Kouwenhoven could not stay in SA. He should serve his sentence in the Netherlands.
She said even though the Netherlands had requested his extradition‚ the extradition proceedings had been repeatedly postponed in Kouwenhoven’s effort to remain free.
Ramjathan-Keogh said the centre was concerned that the department of home affairs‚ despite being aware of this case for more than two years‚ had failed to take steps to cancel the visa.
She said the centre called on the director-general of home affairs to declare Kouwenhoven undesirable.
"He does not qualify for either a port of entry visa‚ any other visa‚ admission into the Republic or a permanent residence permit‚" she said.