Friday, February 25, 2011

Gwisai Bemoans Torture As Muchadehama Challenges Remand

HRDs Alert

24 February 2011


Detained social justice activist Munyaradzi Gwisai on Thursday 24 February 2011 lamented the torture sessions to which suspects are subjected by state security agents as tragic and inexpressible.Gwisai, who testified before Harare Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi during an application for refusal of placement on remand for the 45 human rights activists filed by defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama disclosed in court that he, together with other activists, were subjected to torture sessions during their detention by the police at Harare Central Police Station.Gwisai said the torture sessions were aimed at securing confessions from the activists which would implicate them in the commission of treason, a charge which they are facing in court.In narrating his ordeal, Gwisai said he was tortured together with five other detainees in a room in the basement at Harare Central Police Station by nine state security agents who included some police officers who had arrested them.During the torture sessions, which were recorded on video, the detainees were asked to recount what had transpired during their meeting which was held on Saturday 19 February 2011 in central Harare.

Gwisai said each of the six detainees received a series of lashes which were administered while they lay down on their stomachs. He added that he received between 15 and 20 lashes as the police and his tormentors sought to obtain confessions from him and the other detainees.Gwisai said the pain which he endured and suffered as a result of the torture sessions was “indescribable, sadistic and a tragedy for Zimbabwe”.

The University of Zimbabwe labour law lecturer said it was extremely difficult for him to sit and walk because of the torture sessions he underwent together with other detainees.Gwisai said the meeting held on Saturday was held to discuss ISO business and issues of democracy and constitutionalism and not to plot the toppling of the government as alleged by the police and prosecutors. He added that the meeting which was attended by HIV/AIDS activists was also meant to commemorate the life of a deceased HIV and AIDS activist, Navigator Mungoni.

Earlier on Muchadehama outlined the detainees’ complaints against the police.The detainees’ lawyer said the arrest of his clients was unlawful as they were not advised of the reason/s for their arrest. He also advised that they were over-detained in filthy and stinking police cells. He said the detainees only knew of the treason charge when they finally appeared in court on Wednesday 23 February 2011 and no warned and cautioned statements were recorded in relation to the treason charge.Muchadehama told the court that the police extensively subjected his clients to severe interrogation sessions where they attempted to coax some of the detainees to turn against their colleagues and be considered State witnesses.

He said some of the detainees were assaulted, brutalised and tortured while in police custody. The defence lawyer said the torture sessions were administered through assaults all over the detainees’ bodies, under their feet and buttocks through the use of broomsticks, metal rods, pieces of timber, open palms and some blunt objects.In his application for refusal of remand Muchadehama argued that the facts as outlined by the State did not constitute the commission of an offence.

The matter continues on Monday 28 February 2011 when prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba, who applied for the placement of the detainees on remand, cross examines Gwisai. In the meantime, all 45 will remain incarcerated in remand prison in Harare and at Chikurubi Women’s Prison for the women detainees.


Kumbirai Mafunda

Senior Projects Officer

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

6th Floor Beverley Court

100 Nelson Mandela Av


Zimbabwe Tel: +263 4 705 370/ 708118/ 764085Fax: +263 4 705641Mobile: +263 91 3 855 611

“We Need Generational Change”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Anglican Bishops fearful after brutal murder and death threats

By Irene Madongo
21 February 2011

Anglican bishops in Zimbabwe are appealing for protection, after being warned of plans to kill them as a power struggle with a rival pro-ZANU PF bishop deepens. Their plea for help comes after one of their church members was brutally murdered last week.

It is believed the violence against the clergymen is being orchestrated by the controversial faction of the Anglican Church led by Dr. Nolbert Kunonga, an ardent ZANU PF supporter.
On Monday, the Right Reverend Chad Gandiya, who is the current Bishop of Harare, told SW Radio Africa: “One of my fellow bishops was approached by two people who told him that they had come to kill him and that the mission is to kill all the Anglican bishops; and that is why I said we are an endangered species because from that conversation with my colleagues we are all to be killed.”
“All he was told was this had something to do with the church and that we were stumbling blocks to Dr. Kunonga’s ambition of running the whole Anglican church in Zimbabwe,” Gandiya said.

Just days after the threats a member of the mainstream church headed by Gandiya was brutally murdered last week.
“People came at night on a Friday. They raped her, they cut her mouth and genitals, and pierced various parts of her body,” Gandiya explained, “we were told it is something to do with the fact she belonged to our church, and so that leaves us to speculate.”
Gandiya emphasised it was not linked to the ongoing political violence, saying instead that he believed it was linked to the dispute between Kunonga and the mainstream church.

Following the killing and death threats, Gandiya said that he hoped the police would step in this time to offer them help. On previous occasions, the police have protected Kunonga, going to the extent of following his instructions to turn people away from church, who don’t support him.
“My hope is that they will do their work in terms of protecting all the citizens of Zimbabwe without singling us out as people who are not to be protected,” he said, “our experience has been that we have not enjoyed the protection of the police. Rather the very opposite, they stop us from going into our churches,” he said.

In 2007 Kunonga lost a bid for re-election as Bishop of Harare. Instead of stepping down, he went on to form a rival Anglican faction and has been using violent tactics to remain in power ever since.
SW Radio Africa news - The Independent Voice of Zimbabwe

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stop harassment of Mugabe critics - churches

IOL pic feb11 robert mugabe zimbabwe


Zimbabwean churches demanded a meeting with the police commissioner to ask him to end what they said was the harassment of those who had been driven from their homes by gangs loyal to President Robert Mugabe. Photo: AP

Harare - Zimbabwean churches on Sunday demanded a meeting with the police commissioner to ask him to end what they said was the harassment of those who had been driven from their homes by gangs loyal to President Robert Mugabe.

The last three weeks has seen a surge in the number of attacks in the capital, Harare, on supporters of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. The premier says more than 1,000 people have been displaced by the violence.

Observers have said the attacks are directly linked to Mugabe's threat to call early elections this year. The two-year-old, power- sharing government led by Mugabe and Tsvangirai is close to collapse due to disagreements over political reform.

The Christian Alliance, an umbrella group for most of the country's Protestant churches, said Sunday that police had last week twice raided a church property in Harare where people accused of being Tsvangirai supporters and driven from their homes had found shelter.

In the town of Glen Norah, police raided and assaulted about 100 people sheltering in another church property, activists group Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said.

The Christian Alliance said it was seeking an audience with police commissioner Augustine Chihuri to protest the alleged violence.

Earlier this month, a mob of youth marched from the offices of Mugabe's Zanu-PF party to Harare's business district, attacking foreigners and looting foreign-run businesses, whom they accused of destroying the economy.

At the end of January, an independent watchdog, the Southern African Coalition for Survivors of Torture, also warned of increasing incidents of political brutality and violent intimidation by militias under Mugabe's control.

Meanwhile on Sunday, state media reported that Mugabe had flown to Singapore on Friday for a check-up following an earlier operation there to remove a cataract.

The government in January denied press reports that Mugabe was ill and had undergone surgery in the Far East. - Sapa-dpa

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Student Activist Abducted


A student activist Archford Mudzengi was this afternoon abducted by suspected ZANU-PF youths in Mbare following suspicions that he had gone to fuel the disturbances currently engulfing Mbare. ZANU PF youths have virtually made Mbare a no go area as violence intensifies ahead of possible elections this year. Mudzengi is alleged to have been beaten up then detained by the road side before being taken away.
The last week has seen political turmoil with the MDC-T offices in Mbare being raided and trashed by ZANU-PF youths. Women and children suspected to be supporters of the MDC have been displaced from Mbare and are now in hiding fearing further victimization. The violence is fast evolving into political chaos as ZANU-PF youths are now on the rampage carrying out ruthless attacks on opposition members. So intense is the level of unrest that the usually silent Joint Monitoring Implementation Committee JOMIC held a crisis meeting and provincial chairpersons of the three parties to the global political agreement have called for calm. According to the MDC-T spokes person Nelson Chamisa, more than 1000 families have been displaced from Mbare and the surrounding areas in the past two weeks. The Student Solidarity Trust demands the immediate release of Archford Mudzengi and that the perpetrators of these abductions be prosecuted. The trust is concerned about the rate at which political unrest is unfolding in the country and the risk this poses to students who have been viewed as sympathetic to the opposition in the past.