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243 arrests 170 hospitalised after police crackdown on NCA demo
Violet Gonda, SW Radio Africa
July 26, 2007

Outspoken NCA chairperson Dr Lovemore Madhuku said the Mugabe regime has once again shown it does not care about international opinion and it does not care about regional efforts, after carrying out a brutal and vicious crackdown on NCA activists on Wednesday.

The chairperson said 243 people were arrested in the afternoon and spent several hours at Harare Central police station being brutalised. They were later released close to midnight. Madhuku was speaking from the Avenues clinic where more than 170 activists were receiving treatment for injuries sustained whilst in police custody.

He said: "Imagine there are so-called mediation efforts by SADC, where the ZANU PF government is supposed to have taken lessons from March 11 (where opposition and civic leaders were severely assaulted by the police). But what happened yesterday is 10 times worse than March 11 because you have over 200 people being beaten, some of them quite old women - brutalised by young people wearing police uniforms and ZANU PF regalia."

The pressure group had staged a series of demonstration in all the major towns. Scores of people were also arrested in Masvingo, Mutare, Gweru, Midlands and Bulawayo. They are all still in police custody.

It's reported the violence was more severe in Harare where police also followed some of the demonstrators to the NCA headquarters and continued to assault them. NCA Director Earnest Mudzengi was one of those arrested from the offices. It's reported the police fired shots in the air and threw tear gas at the activists at the offices. Madhuku confirmed that the police had barricaded the NCA headquarters and no one was allowed to enter the premises on Thursday.

Speaking from the Avenues Clinic one of the victims, Shepherd Gotora, said they were made to lie down in rows and severely assaulted at the NCA offices and later at the police station and even elderly women were not spared.

Madhuku said upon their release on Wednesday night: "Most of them (activists) could not walk for more than a few metres from the police station. So they just collapsed along the road called Robson Manyika." He said they were being attended to at the Avenues Clinic and Dandaro Clinic and by late Thursday about 50 people remained in hospital.

The pressure group are leading campaigners for a new and people driven constitution and they said they will not be deterred by the repressive actions of the state. The group said their cause had been strengthened by the police brutality and that they will maintain their presence in the streets.

The police refused to comment.

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