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NCA activists beaten while in police cells
Lucia Makamure, The Zimbabwe Independent
July 27, 2007

AT least 150 National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) activists were hospitalised after they were severely beaten while in police custody on Wednesday night for demonstrating against Constitutional Amendment (No18) Bill.

Police arrested 243 NCA activists in Harare while 15 people were arrested in Mutare, 12 in Masvingo and six in Gweru.

The demonstrations were held after President Robert Mugabe officially opened the third session of the sixth parliament on Tuesday.

The demonstrators were later released. Police spokesman Andrew Phiri could not be reached for comment on the issue.

In his address, the president said the current session will see the tabling of Constitutional Amendment (No 18) Bill that seeks to harmonise presidential and parliamentary elections, among other things.

NCA national chairperson Lovemore Madhuku in a telephone interview yesterday, said the protestors were picked up in the city centre and forced onto police trucks before being driven to Harare Central Police station where they were beaten continuously for more than two hours.

"Some of the activists were arrested while demonstrating while others were picked up at our offices and were taken to the police station where policemen took turns to beat them up," said Madhuku.

Madhuku said the arrested people included old women. He said the assaults on Wednesday night were worse than the March 11 beatings of political and civil society leaders. "I was part of the group that was beaten up in March but what happened that day cannot be compared to what happened on Wednesday. Avenues Hospital is in a sorry state," he said.

The NCA leader said his pressure group was not going to give up in the fight for a new constitution as the South African-led mediation talks had collapsed.

"We need a new constitution as our future does not lie in some meaningless mediation talks. It is time that the international community and Zimbabweans in general know that nothing has changed in Zimbabwe. Repression is actually going up considering the number of people who were beaten up on Wednesday night," said Madhuku.

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