46 freedom fighters charged with treason

Munyaradzi Gwisai, the radical leader of the International Socialist Organisation (ISO) Zimbabwe chapter, plus 45 other student and trade union activists, were on Wednesday charged with treason or alternatively plotting to ‘overthrow a constitutionally elected government.’

The activists from the ISO, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and Zimbabwe National Students Union, were arrested Saturday during a meeting that was held at a venue along Harare‘s Julius Nyerere Avenue. During the meeting video footage of the protests in Egypt and Tunisia was shown.

Police are alleging Gwisai addressed the meeting and made a speech to the effect that Zimbabwe was led by a dictator who had been in power for too long and had caused the suffering of many people. They allege that he told the crowd that what happened in Egypt should also happen in Zimbabwe to remove the dictator.

SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa was at the Harare Magistrates Court and said all 46 activists, including Gwisai, were eventually brought to court after 4 nights in police custody. The group included 11 women, one of whom was arrested with her baby. The baby spent the night in cells and was only released the following day into the arms of the distressed father.

Seven alleged ring leaders are said to have been severely beaten by the police. Gwisai, accused of being the brains behind the meeting, was brought to court wearing a dirty soiled t-shirt written ‘The World at Crossroads.’ The activists are being represented by human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama and Marufu Mandevere.

They were however brought to court without knowing the charges, and this forced lawyers to request time to consult their clients on the charges. As Muchemwa reports this was a calculated plot by the state to delay the case, as prison officers were seen preparing warrants of detention even before the activists went into court. – SW Radio