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Senior police officers behind torture of MDC activist
Tichaona Sibanda, SW Radio Africa
May 11, 2007

A senior police officer in Harare has been exposed as a 'vicious torturer' behind the serial beatings of MDC activists at the notorious Law and Order section at the central police station.

Senior assistant commissioner Musarashana Godwin Mabunda, an elder at the Zioga church, was described on Friday as a Christian who openly and unashamedly defends the use of torture and abuse against MDC activists detained by the regime in the last two months.

Other senior officers named were Superintendent Chani and an Inspector Rangwani. Both Mabunda and Chani are former war veterans and were described by a former police officer as 'two individuals who are difficult to reason with.'

The silence on Mabunda and his co-conspirators was broken by Pishai Muchauraya, MDC spokesman for Manicaland, a torture victim who barely survived to tell his story to confirm the 'horrors' that police under the command of 'the terrible trio' tortured MDC activists at the Law and Order headquarters in the capital.

Muchauraya said; 'It's normal for Christians to see themselves as defenders of morality rather than defenders of evil. He (Mabunda) must come to grips with the fact that as a Christian he is defending and advocating moral evil in the pursuit of political goals.'

Describing the horrors of the week he spent at the Law and Order section, Muchauraya painted a picture of arrests and torture that have led human rights groups to condemn the regime in the strongest terms.

'The first stage was the inevitable shock. As a pro-democracy activist fighting against the brutal regime I was by and large psychologically prepared for danger, but I was totally unprepared to experience such suffering from people who are supposed to be protecting us,' he said.

Muchauraya added; 'before charges were even laid against me, Chani whipped me 16 times on my buttocks and gleefully told me it was just an introduction. After I got over the initial pain I was then consumed by fear. I thought I would never walk out alive.'

There were other forms of brutality.

'I was treated cruelly not only by the senior officers but their subordinates as well. Many of these junior officers kept their distance but were forced to be proactive to prove their worth and to avoid suspicion. They cursed and shouted at me, made fun of my ill health and inflicted punishment whenever they pleased,' Muchauraya said.

He said one of the worst punishments he endured was the denial of food. In one week he was fed just enough to keep him alive: no more than a fistful of food at mealtime, and there were times he was not fed at all.

'I used to see myself as a warrior, unbreakable and strong. But I lost all that dignity under torture, 'ndakapedzisira ndakubowa sekamwana nekurohwa' (I ended up wailing like a kid at each beating).'

After the third day in custody police tried to charge him with insurgency, terrorism and banditry but he denied all charges. On the fifth day he was charged on a lesser account of 'causing trouble' in Manicaland and was released on Z$2500 bail. He spent a week in hospital receiving treatment.

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