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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign

  • OSISA statement on Zimbabwe rights abuses
    Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)
    March 12, 2007

    View Save Zimbabwe Campaign index of images and articles

    It has come to our attention that on Sunday 11 March 2007, Mr. Gift Tandare, a Zimbabwean citizen was shot and killed by police in Highfields, a suburb in the capital city of Harare.

    He was on his way to a prayer meeting.

    Zimbabweans from different walks of life had agreed to spend their Sunday, the traditional day of Christian worship, in collective fellowship as comfort to each other. Their aim: to build some hope for their country, caught in a tangle of extreme political tension, economic hardship and spiritual distress.

    The prayer meeting was organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign, an alliance of individual Zimbabweans organized through their affiliations with their churches, their labour unions, students' bodies, the media, youth groups, women's organizations and a variety of political parties.

    Eyewitness accounts say riot police officers at the scene, advanced on the crowd and fired multiple shots at the unarmed civilians. One of the bullets hit Mr. Gift Tandare, aged 30, in the chest. He died on the side of the road where others had dragged him before they fled the approaching police. The officer who fired the fatal shot has not come forward.

    We extend our deepest condolences to Mr. Gift Tandare's wife and three children, two daughters and a son, at this time of their loss. May you be comforted by the knowledge of our prayers and support for you at this tragic time.

    Mr. Tandare was Youth Chairperson of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) for Glenview suburb in Harare. The NCA is a lawfully registered group that advocates for Zimbabwe to adopt a homegrown, people driven constitution.

    We take this painful moment of Tandare's death to bring to the world's attention our concern over the arrests of other civic and political leaders, among them Dr Lovemore Madhuku, Lecturer at Law and Chairperson of the NCA. He was beaten in police custody and rushed to Parirenyatwa hospital. He was treated for a broken arm and has had five stitches but remains in the cells at Marlborough Police Station.

    We are additionally concerned at the arrests of the leadership of political parties, particularly those in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), among them MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai, who was beaten to the point of collapsing and was taken to Parirenyatwa hospital in the early hours of this morning. He has since been taken to Borrowdale police station and is unable to speak due to extensive injuries.

    Other MDC members assaulted and in custody include:

    Ms Grace Kwinjeh, beaten and held in custody at Braeside Police Station. Professor Arthur Mutambara, and 4 others, held at Avondale Police Station. Their condition could not be ascertained as visitors were denied access to the detainees. Mr. Tendai Biti, Honourable Member of Parliament for Harare East constituency, is in custody at Rhodesville Police Station. The Honourable Nelson Chamisa, Member of Parliament for Kuwadzana is in custody at Highlands Police Station. Mrs Sekai Holland and Mr Elton Mangoma, also of the MDC are in custody at unknown locations.

    This horrific treatment of members of a legitimately registered political entity goes against the letter and the spirit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Guidelines and Principles on Free and Fair Elections and the regulations governing detainees as outlined in the African Charter for Human and People's Rights.

    We raise further concern that Mr. Harrison Nkomo, legal representative for the arrested parties was not only denied access to his clients but also was himself assaulted for seeking to protect the rights of his clients.

    We are additionally concerned by the reluctance of the Courts to treat this matter with the urgency it deserves by delaying its response to the urgent application placed before the Judge President on Sunday night.

    A total of 49 Zimbabweans are currently confirmed to be detained at as many as fifteen different police stations across the capital city. Further arrests have been reported in Mutare, where 125 activists of the opposition were picked up, and in Masvingo. The detainees have been denied access to legal representation and medical attention.

    This is the latest assault on the human rights of citizens in Zimbabwe.

    Recalling that Zimbabwe is signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many other instruments that promote and protect the rights and dignities of its citizens we urge immediate:

    • investigation of the death of Gift Tandare on March 11 following the police shooting in Highfield
    • release from further detention of all those citizens who are being held for having exercised their democratic right to peaceful protest through the prayer meeting
    • provision of quality medical attention to all those who have been tortured in police custody
    • access by lawyers to all those in custody.

    Zimbabwe's citizens should be enabled to enjoy their freedoms of peaceful protest and assembly without fear of death from a police force whose mandate is to protect them. We call upon the relevant government authorities to repeal the ban issued in February on public meetings and protest expression.

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