Urgent High Court Application To Release MDC Activists

Harare,- Frustrated by the police’s continued refusal to allow them to see their clients, lawyers representing Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) activists who were arrested this week for allegedly murdering a police officer on Thursday filed an urgent High Court application seeking an order to compel the police to take their clients to court or release them.\r\n

Human rights lawyer Marufu Mandevere told Radio VOP on Thursday that since the accused person were arrested beginning this past Sunday, police have continuously stifled efforts by them to interview the accused in police custody.

“We have applied in the High Court on an urgent basis to ask court either take our clients to court today or release them if they are not yet ready to do so. We also want the police to allow us to see our clients,” said Mandevere. “What the police are doing is totally unlawful. In terms of Section 18 of the Constitution, an accused has the right to see their legal practitioner upon arrest.”

The Prime Minister’s Morgan Tsvangirai led MDC on Wednesday denied its activists were involved in the murder of police Inspector Petros Mutedza saying the cop was fatally assaulted by ordinary patrons at a Glen View bar who were discussing football.

The MDC further claimed its activists were being tortured in police custody while trying to induce confessions from them.

The party said on Wednesday that its National Executive Member and MP, Last Maengahama and others who were arrested since Monday have been tortured.

“In order to justify their earlier accusations against the MDC, the police started rounding up and detaining all known MDC officials and activists in Glenview. Those arrested have not been allowed access to their lawyers. We now have it on good authority that some of these including Mr Last Maengahama have been brutally assaulted and are being denied medical treatment,” said Tendai Biti, MDC Secretary General.

The party confirmed that the following party members had so far been arrested:  Last Maengahama, Stanley Maengahama, Edison Maengahama, Lazarus Maengahama, Cynthia Manjoro and her unidentified brother, Odius Chitanda, Lloyd Chitanda, Precious Chitanda, Councillor Tungamirai Madzokere, Mavis Madzokere, Ollyn Madzokere, Stefan Takaedzwa and Benjamin Majecha.

“They are arresting everyone whether you are a tenant, lodger or house girl without determining prima facie grounds for arrests.” Biti said the arrests are an inducement for confusion ahead of a Sadc summit that is likely to be held around June 12 and 13.

“The SADC summit will not be fooled, we have been the victims of violence and the people of Zimbabwe are the victims not perpetrators,” said Biti.

Biti said his party expects the regional body to adopt a roadmap for elections.”MDC expects SADC to endorse the very important resolutions of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation that was held in Livingstone, Zambia on 31 March 2011. As we have always said before, we are ready for free and fair elections based on a clear roadmap that is underwritten by SADC and the AU.  The roadmap must have specific timelines and benchmarks,” said Biti adding that “we call upon the parties to undertake serious security sector reforms in view of the partisan behaviour of some of the security forces.”

Meanwhile Home Affairs co-minister Kembo Mohadi says police would now be armed when dealing with groups of people. Mohadi told the State media Wednesday that police had been risking their lives by confronting large groups of people with bare hands.

“Let me tell the nation that the ZRP is going to defend itself because some people have declared war on us. We did not declare war on them,” he said.

Mohadi said those involved in the murder of Inspector Mutedza should surrender themselves to the police saying police will not stop hunting for them. “Those who are still outstanding should come forward and surrender themselves because we will hunt them down even if they go into hiding. They should not waste time,” he said.

The number of those arrested was not yet known although it is believed they could be between 20 and 30. These include families and relatives of known MDC activists who were found at their homes by police.