Zimbabwe Sentences South African White to 25 Years on Spy Charges

Associated Press

A 27-year-old white woman who infiltrated the African National Congress for her native South Africa was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison on spy charges.

Odile Harington, an arts graduate and daughter of a Johannesburg doctor, bit her lip but showed no other emotion when sentenced.

"The most appropriate sentence in a case such as this is in my view the death penalty," said High Court Judge Wilson Sandura.

The judge refused to allow her to appeal the sentence, the maximum under Zimbabwe law.

Before sentencing, Harington told the judge that she was tortured and sexually assaulted by Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organization security police from the time she was arrested in January.

She admitted she was working for the Pretoria government's intelligence services to get information on the ANC, the largest guerrilla organization working to overthrow the South African government.

Harington entered Zimbabwe from South Africa in October, 1986, posing as an anti-apartheid activist and was granted refugee status in two ANC houses in Harare.

Her defense lawyer, Julian Colegrave, argued unsuccessfully that since South Africa was not an enemy of Zimbabwe, Harington's action could be considered espionage. He entered a plea of not guilty.

Harington, described by state prosecutor Augustine Chigumira as "basically a racist," said in mitigation before sentence that she did not support her white-led government's apartheid policy of racial separation but wanted South Africa free from terrorism.

"I think my government has made it quite clear they want to get rid of apartheid, but every attempt they make they're mocked, they are insulted and they are slandered by the world," she told the judge.

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