The group appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court on Thursday and told harrowing stories of how they were assaulted by security agents for holding a meeting which police say was meant to topple President Robert Mugabe.
A dishevelled- looking but high-spirited Gwisai told the court how the police had called six members of his group to a room where they assaulted them.
“Whenever I gave an answer that was not satisfactory, I was told to lie on my stomach and I was given lashes,” Gwisai said. “ (It was)indescribable pain. It is sadistic.”
He said his torturers tried to beat him into admitting that he had said “Abasha Mugabe”, which is Portuguese for “down with Mugabe” and that he must go.
Gwisai alleged that he was lashed 15 times and was finding it difficult to sit and walk.
He told the court that even though Mugabe was an elected president, people could still revolt against him.
“This is the reason why people went to war and died to ensure that people govern.”
Among the people arrested on Saturday were HIV and Aids activists, some of who are living positively with the disease.
Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi was told those living with Aids Aids were denied medication whilst in police custody and this had violated their medication cycle.
Gwisai and 44 others have been charged with attempting to topple Mugabe and circumventing a sitting government.
Both charges carry a lengthy prison sentence or the death penalty.
But the former MP for Highfield and law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe told the court that the meeting was called for by the International Socialist Organisation to discuss the question of democracy and constitutionalism taking into account recent events in Egypt and Tunisia.
“The meeting was also called to draw lessons for the working class in Zimbabwe and Africa,” said Gwisai.
Their lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, pleaded with the court that his clients be given medical attention by independent doctors.
Mutevedzi said the Zimbabwe Prison Service was in a position to give medical attention to those requiring it but should they fail to do so satisfactorily, the accused should inform the courts on Monday when the hearing will resume. – Daily News