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National human rights defenders project - Alert No. 2
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
September 19, 2007

The Rapid Reaction Unit (RRU) of the National Human Rights Defenders Project continues to remain on high alert as the stay away enters its first day. Further incidents of abduction and detention have been reported. They are detailed below, together with further updates of previously reported cases:-

In Gweru, Isaac Teveteve, the Gweru Branch Secretary of the ZCTU, who was detained on 18 September 2007, remains in custody and ZLHR continues to pursue efforts to secure his release.

In Bulawayo the two ZCTU secretariat members, Mr Reason Ngwenya and Mr Ambrose Sibindi, who were detained, were released without charge late last night.

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) member, Magodonga Mahlangu, was detained at Bulawayo Central police station and remains in custody. ZLHR member, Mr Kossam Ncube, continues to handle the case.

In Masvingo, on 13 and 14 September 2007, three ZCTU members, Elliot Muposhi, Willmore Makure, and Tafara Tawengahama were arrested on two separate occasions and taken to Masvingo police station where they were interrogated by police officers from the CID Law and Order section and members of the Central Intelligence Organisation, concerning the planned ZCTU stay away and for addressing some workers on the planned stay away. After the interrogation which lasted three hours the three were released but threatened against going ahead with the stay away.

In Harare, on Monday 17 September, around 1400hrs, three ZCTU members, namely Michael Kandukutu, Tenson Muchefa, and Justice Mucheni, were arrested in the Workington area while trying to distribute fliers for the stay away. A member of the general public, Mr. Martin Chinhamo, was also arrested for picking up one of the fliers. In the process of these arrests the ZCTU members were assaulted by the arresting police officers before being taken to Mbare police station where they were further assaulted before being transferred to Harare Central police station at around 1600hrs.

The ZLHR RRU deployed three lawyers to represent the accused persons. ZLHR lawyer, Dzimbabwe Chimbga, initially managed to speak to one of the ZCTU members who informed him of their arrest and assault before he was threatened and whisked away and denied further access to the arrested persons. All three lawyers were denied access to the arrested persons by the Investigating Officer, one Inspector Shereni. The ZCTU members, who refused to pay admission of guilt fines which the police were insisting they should pay, opting instead to be taken to court as they had committed no criminal offence. Police are considering charges of criminal nuisance under Section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification & Reform) Act.

An urgent application was filed in the High Court on the evening of 18 September 2007 seeking that lawyers have access to the detained persons and that they be taken to court immediately. The matter is set to be heard before Justice Musakwa but no time for the hearing has been provided as yet.

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