ZIFA has secured an air ticket for Cameroonian footballer Brice Eto’o Fils who is at Harare Central Remand Prison awaiting deportation.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
Eto’o came to Zimbabwe in September at the invitation of Gunners FC, but has spent the last two months at the remand prison after being arrested by the Immigration Department for not possessing travelling documents.
The Cameroonian, who claims to be the cousin of former Africa Footballer of the Year Samuel Eto’o, was brought into the country for trials by Gunners FC with the view of signing him, but the club later reneged on all their promises.
Eto’o, whose prison number is 6715/12, is claiming that he was deceived by a conman at the South African embassy who stole his passport as well as US$500 before he was arrested by the Immigration Department.
Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze confirmed that the association had secured the player’s ticket with the Ethiopian Airways and that his departure from Zimbabwe now hinged on whether the Immigration Department quickly processed his deportation papers.
“We have secured the air ticket which is worth US$800 for the Cameroonian player Eto’o who is at Harare Central Remand Prison. The Immigration Department told us that once the ticket is available, they will begin sorting out paperwork for his release and eventual departure.
“The department assured us that they will quickly process his papers to ensure his passage. Ethiopian Airways leaves the country on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so if he does not leave the country on Tuesday he will certainly go on Thursday,” said Mashingaidze.
Mashingaidze said the association would deal with whoever was responsible for bringing the player into the country as his predicament destroyed the image of the country.
“We will certainly take action against whoever brought the player into the country. This issue will be discussed at the Zifa board meeting on Tuesday. We have to look closely at these cases because there could be an element of human trafficking,” he said.
Mashingaidze said in future Zifa would tighten their laws on foreigners coming into the country for trials.
‘We have to be strict on foreigners intending to hold trials in Zimbabwe. There should be proof of accommodation as well as the return ticket. I am also following up on a Nigerian player who is also in prison,” he said.
Principal Immigration Officer, Patricia Mafodya said it was not their policy to disclose when an illegal immigrant would be deported.