Mel Reynolds 'in hiding' in South Africa

March 3, 2014

Eyewitness News reached the former Congressman by phone in South Africa. That's where he says he has been in "hiding" since his flight out of Zimbabwe a little more than a week ago.

Mel Reynolds spent 2 years and 10 months in Congress. Last month, he was in a Zimbabwean jail for six days.

"Fifty people dressed in rags slept on concrete floors with no running water. Only one toilet that hadn't worked in four or five years. The stench was beyond your imagination," said Reynolds.

The former Congressman was initially arrested and charged with overstaying his visa and possessing pornography on his phone and computer. The state-run newspaper claimed Reynolds had 100 videos and 2,000 nude photos, some of couples having sex.

"There were no pornographic images on the phone that would be considered pornographic in any place other than Zimbabwe. That in and of itself is a ruse. If a picture of woman topless is pornography, then I plead the Fifth," said Reynolds.

Reynolds - who lost his congressional seat in 1995 after being convicted of sexual assault and soliciting child porn - says the Zimbabwe charges were trumped-up. He claims he was about to expose Americans - including Chicagoans - who are illegally doing business with dictator Robert Mugabe.

"They knew the press would jump on that. That would be the story: 'Here we go again with Mel Reynolds.' And they were right. It was meant to discredit me so the information that I have would not be initially believed," said Reynolds.

Reynolds says he spent a hellacious 6 days in jail with no help from the U.S. government. The porn charges only dropped after, he says, he essentially bribed local authorities to deport him.

"I'm an American citizen. I'm a former United States Congressman - whether you like it or not - and I asked for protection. They were the ones who told me the CIO, the secret police, were hunting for me yet they offered no protection for me or my daughter," said Reynolds.

Reynolds says he will begin publicly revealing information he claims to have about people illegally doing business with the Mugabe regime at a press conference in South Africa in the next day or so.

No comment on that claim from the U.S. Attorney.

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