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NCA members arrested and brutally assaulted
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)
October 23, 2003

On the 22nd October 2003 NCA youths staged an impromptu but peaceful demonstration in Harare. The purpose of the demonstration was to push forward the constitutional reform agenda as well as to protest against the general political, social and economic repression in Zimbabwe.

Although yesterday's procession was impromptu more than 500 people took part in the demonstration.

As the NCA youths and other citizens expressed themselves peacefully in Africa Unity Square, armed riot police details descended on them. The armed police that was blended by a contingent of the Zanu PF youth brigade set dogs on the peaceful demonstrators and pounced on them with truncheons. Among the NCA members who were brutally assaulted and arrested by the police were Dr Lovemore Madhuku, the NCA Chairperson, Joy Mabenge, the NCA Regional Chairperson for Harare and Steve Mutsaurwa, the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) Secretary for Research and Education.

Altogether, 400 demonstrators were arrested and taken to Harare Central Police Station where they could not fit into the cells. While at Harare Central Police Station, the NCA members were handed to members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police Support Unit who brutally assaulted them. They were not formally charged with any offence.

At 23 00 hours, the police took 40 youths from among the demonstrators and dumped them at 1 Commando Barracks along the Airport Road. Another 40 were ferried in armoured trucks and were abandoned in the Mount Hampden area. Others, whose numbers and whereabouts are still to be ascertained, are feared to have been sent to some "police stations" outside Harare.

At the time this statement was being prepared, Dr Madhuku, Joy Mabenge and 78 other NCA members were still in police custody at Harare Central. However, they have not been formally charged with any crime. Another 38 people who we suspect to be members of the public are also still in police custody in connection with the demonstration. This group joined the demonstration following the arrest and brutalisation of Dr Madhuku.

Also in police custody is Mr Blessing Zulu, an independent journalist and two other journalists from The Herald who were covering the demonstration.

We unreservedly condemn the wanton acts of brutality that was met on the NCA members, the general public and journalists by the police, the same police that is supposed to protect these people as they discharge their innocent daily duties and obligations. Let it be known to the increasingly counter professional Zimbabwe Republic Police that their acts of medieval brutality will not cow the NCA and the people of Zimbabwe into cowardly submission.

The NCA, working with and for the citizens of Zimbabwe will continue with its legitimate forms of protest until the government unconditionally accepts the pertinence of the constitutional reform agenda. Yesterday's action is part of our programme "Keep on Knocking" in which we will keep knocking on the government doors over the need for a democratic constitution in Zimbabwe.

Forty (40) arrested and assaulted NCA youths have been sent for medical examination by two provate practitioners. The findings of the practitioners will soon be made public.

Douglas Mwonzora

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