Former Illinois lawmaker Mel Reynolds is turning his fall from decades-long grace into an international sport. He was recently arrested and jailed for a few days in Zimbabwe following allegations of possessing pornographic material, which is illegal in the southern African nation. He pleaded guilty to violating the country's immigration laws, paid a $100 fine and was deported to South Africa. The pornography charges were dropped because of a technicality in how the evidence was gathered.
Now Reynolds is saying he's in hiding in South Africa and fears for his life because he threatened to expose allegedly illegal business deals involving "blood diamonds" between American and Zimbabwean businessmen, the Associated Press reports.
The disgrace former congressman had traveled to the country several times in the past four years attracting investment for the construction a $145 million Hilton Hotel and office complex that is scheduled to begin next month.
Reynolds told the newswire that a secret Zimbabwean death squad is after him and that he also has information about money laundering by the Zimbabwe government. All will be revealed, he added, at a press conference he plans to hold before leaving South Africa to return home to Chicago. At that time, he said, he'll be naming names.
But according to Zimbabwe's Deputy Minister of Information Supa Mandiwanzira, there's nothing to tell and if there were, Reynolds wouldn't be revealing anything from South Africa.
"If the Zimbabwean government had anything to hide, we would have kept him here," Mandiwanzira told AP. "The fact that we did not should indicate to anyone that the claims are not true. The fact of the matter is that he was found to be in the country illegally. He had overstayed his visa and so he was deported."
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(Photo: AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)