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  • Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign

  • Court orders access to 'hurt' Tsvangirai
    Business Day (SA)
    March 13, 2007

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    HARARE - Zimbabwe's high court yesterday ordered police to allow lawyers access to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who was said to be "in bad shape" after suffering head injuries while in police custody.

    Police detained Tsvangirai and dozens of other opposition figures on Sunday and killed a man while breaking up a prayer meeting organised in defiance of a ban on political rallies. Rights groups alleged Tsvangirai and other politicians were tortured.

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern about the detention, echoing international condemnation of the Zimbabwean government over rights abuses.

    A Tsvangirai lawyer said the high court ordered police late yesterday to give them access to the head of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the other detainees.

    "A provisional order was issued that we have access to our clients, that they should be taken to hospital where necessary and that they should be taken to court by 12pm tomorrow, failing which they should be released," Alec Muchadehama said.

    Under Zimbabwe's laws, police can detain suspects for up to 48 hours before bringing them to court.

    Earlier, Tsvangirai lawyer Innocent Chagonda visited the MDC leader and said he was in bad shape.

    "He was swollen very badly. He was bandaged on the head. You couldn't distinguish between the head and the face and he could not see properly."

    MDC vice-president Thokozani Khupe said the party wanted all detainees freed immediately and pledged that the struggle against President Robert Mugabe would continue.

    "President Tsvangirai is battling for his life at Borrowdale police station after he was brutally assaulted. He lost consciousness three times following the attack," she said.

    Political tensions, which have been brewing over the soaring cost of living and Mugabe's controversial rule, erupted when riot squads fought opposition youths in the capital on Sunday for the second time in a month.

    The US yesterday joined growing international condemnation of government-backed violence in Zimbabwe.

    "This is unfortunately another example of the increasingly harsh treatment that those wishing to express opposition political views face under President Robert Mugabe," said state department spokesman Tom Casey.

    "We are shocked by reports of injuries to a number of opposition leaders and certainly call on the government of Zimbabwe to provide all medical treatment necessary to any of these individuals and release them as quickly as possible," he said.

    The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) yesterday demanded the immediate release of MDC leaders.
    Cosatu had already pledged "solidarity action" in SA in support of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions' plan for a general strike on April 3 and 4.

    "We warn the Mugabe government not to try to repeat the kind of pre-emptive arrests used yesterday," Cosatu said.
    Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon called on President Thabo Mbeki to urgently review government's approach to Zimbabwe.

    "The arrest and detention of Tsvangirai should serve as a final wake-up call to President Mbeki that he simply cannot afford to continue with a business as usual approach to the growing crisis in Zimbabwe," Leon said. With Dumisani Muleya

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