ROHR Spokesperson assaulted in custody

The Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) Spokesperson, Mr. Sten Zvorwadza was assaulted by a police officer following his arrest in Mbare on Saturday 28 January 2012, it has emerged.

Zvorwadza, who is represented by human rights lawyer, Jeremiah Bamu, told the court during a remand hearing held at Mbare Magistrates Court, Harare today, 30 January that he was severely assaulted with clenched fists and booted feet by a police officer referred to as Constable Mberi. The ROHR Spokesperson was also allegedly denied food and access to relatives and legal representation for more than 12 hours. The court also heard that members of the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA), who visited him on the 28th of January, were turned away by the police.

The ROHR Spokesperson was arrested and charged under Section 186 of the Criminal Law and Codification Act for allegedly threatening to murder ZANU PF Mbare activists, Clifford Mazarura and Clever Ntabende. According to the Defence, Mr. Zvorwadza, who is also a businessman, was approached by ZANU PF youths while installing underground paraffin tanks at the Harare Municipality Pump House near Matapi in Mbare. The youths told Mr. Zvorwadza to stop his work claiming that Mbare is ZANU PF territory and threatened him with unspecified action. Efforts to report the matter to the police were met with hostility leading to the arrest of Zvorwadza.

The presiding magistrate ordered the state to investigate the assault complaints and remanded Mr. Zvorwadza out of custody until the 14th of February.

The arrest and assault of Zvorwadza comes against the backdrop of the continued incarceration without trial of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Youth Assembly Chairperson, Solomon Madzore and seven other MDC supporters for allegedly murdering a police officer in Glen View. Attempts to secure bail for the eight have so far been futile.

This is not the first time that ZANU PF has used long incarcerations as a form of intimidation and harassment of MDC supporters and members of civil society. In 2007, MDC officials including Dennis Murira and Paul Madzore were incarcerated for over five months under unsubstantiated terrorism charges. They were released without charge. Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) Director, Ms. Jestina Mukoko and other civil society activists and MDC supporters were abducted in December 2008 and unlawfully incarcerated for three months without fair trial. The Zimbabwe Supreme Court on the 29th of September 2009 ordered a permanent stay of criminal proceedings against the ZPP Director.

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