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Rights campaigner Betty Makoni and two Americans arrested
Violet Gonda
, SW Radio Africa
August 22, 2007

The outspoken founder of the Girl Child Network, Betty Makoni, and two America women were arrested in Harare on Tuesday. The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said Makoni is being accused of allegedly "smuggling in foreigners to cover the country's crisis without accreditation." When SW Radio Africa contacted the human rights campaigner late Wednesday she said she was not allowed to speak as she was at the police station. It was not clear why she was still being held.

It's reported that the two Americans were filming a documentary on the Girl Child Network. Betty Makoni is an internationally acclaimed Zimbabwean child rights activist who has won awards for her innovative child abuse prevention activities.

We could not get through to the American Embassy in Harare for a comment on the arrest of the two US nationals.

There were other arrests earlier this week as the government continued its campaign against perceived enemies. Several pastors were arrested while they were praying in Chitungwiza this past weekend. Their lawyer James Tabora said heavily armed police officers with teargas descended on the venue where more than 45 Pastors from various denominations had gathered. Several individuals were arrested and the rest of the congregation was ordered to disperse. The arrested were accused of convening a political meeting but the lawyer said the meeting was strictly religious. Under Zimbabwe's notorious security laws police are supposed to be notified of a political gathering.

The Pastors who were arrested on Saturday were released the same day after paying fines of Z$40 000 each. But there were more arrests on Monday night when police hunted down some of the pastors from their homes. The lawyer said they were finally released on Tuesday.

Meanwhile the Crisis Coalition said Braeside police tortured in custody a popular businesswoman Ms. Majangi aka Mai Fafi and her manager for "failing to adhere to the state stipulated prices on alcohol." Mai Fafi, who owns a bar in the Avondale area of Harare, was arrested and released on Sunday but re-arrested on Monday. It's reported a police officer dealing with the case was also arrested on bribery charges because it was alleged the two's earlier release was un-procedural.

Thousands of business owners have been arrested in recent weeks since the government embarked on the price cut wars last month.

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