An Israeli fugitive rabbi, Eliezer Berland, who fled sexual offences charges was reportedly picked up by police on Monday in Bulawayo for allegedly flouting Zimbabwe’s immigration laws.
Well-placed sources told Radio Dialogue that Berland was arrested yesterday at a hide out in Bulawayo, as it emerged that his travel documents were reportedly not in order.
Berland, head of the Shuvu Banim Hassidic sect, was accused of committing indecent acts against several young female followers. He was wanted in Israel for questioning before he fled to the US, Italy, and Switzerland.
He eventually settled for some time in Marrakech, Morocco, before moving once again to Zimbabwe where the law enforcers have held him amid reports that his traveler’s visa has expired.
A local weekly newspaper exposed Rabbi Berland’s hiding hole in Bulawayo last Sunday.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo could not immediately shed more light on Berland’s arrest saying his case could be in the hands of another police wing, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
“We have not heard about this matter, it could be handled by the CID, they might have more information,” said Insp Moyo.
It is reported that the Bulawayo Jewish community has been providing Berland and his followers, estimated to be over 100, a safe haven at various resort lodges in the city.
Radio Dialogue has it on good authority that some of these followers are booked at a city three star hotel and it is understood more of his followers will probably join him for Passover – that is if he is cleared by the police.
Berland fled Israel last year after he was accused of sexually abusing female followers, some of whom were allegedly minors at the time the abuse allegedly took place, and is still wanted for questioning by Israeli police and ever since he has been forced to stay in countries, like Morocco and Zimbabwe, which do not have extradition treaties with Israel, reported an Israeli publication Arutz Sheva 7.
The publication also said earlier this week, one of Berland’s followers and a close associate has been transporting Kosher-for-Passover food to Zimbabwe in advance of the hundreds of Shavu Banim hassidim expected to travel to meet the Rabbi over the holiday.
“To this end, a wealthy Jew from Johannesburg has donated 600 pounds matzah (unleavened bread) and 60 cases of wine for the expected visitors,”Arutz Sheva 7 reported.