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Monitor Issue 100
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
July 04, 2011
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It is the voices
that tell the story and nothing else.
Over the past
100 weeks, The Legal Monitor has told stories that show that despite
race, religion, class or creed, Zimbabweans are battling with a
common problem: human rights abuses.
From four elderly
families fighting eviction by their employer to over a dozen human
rights and political activists abducted and tortured by State security
agents, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR) has been there
to assist and it has assisted many.
The Legal Monitor,
too, has played its role in ensuring that these cases receive as
wide a coverage as possible.
Take the case
of four elderly families who were threatened with eviction in 2009
from the Snake Park houses they had called home for more than 52
fait accompli for the families as the employer enlisted the services
of the police to evict these hapless senior citizens.
The Legal Monitor
broke the sad story and in no time the senior citizens had won a
reprieve following the intervention of lawyers from ZLHR.
citizens' case is an example of how ZLHR and The Legal Monitor
have extended their arm to protect citizens' rights, particularly
those in vulnerable situations.
and other rights and political
activists were abducted and held incommunicado by State security
agents who tortured them in 2008 at the height of Zimbabwe's
who included elderly persons and a two-year old boy, Nigel Mutemagawu
were being accused of trying to topple President Robert Mugabe's
The Legal Monitor
gave the matter extensive coverage, exposing the cruel methods used
by State security agents to force suspects to confess to crimes.
threatened with death. I was told I had only two choices. Either
becoming a state witness or going extinct. Those were the exact
words that they used. What they meant by that was that no one would
be able to find my body," Mukoko said in an interview with
The Legal Monitor in 2009 after her ordeal. The Supreme Court in
2009 freed her after ruling
that by torturing the pioneering human rights campaigner State security
agents had violated her constitutional rights.
stories were covered by The Legal Monitor were not so lucky. Village
headman Rwisai Nyakauru died
at the age of 82 in April after succumbing to severe beatings by
State security agents that abducted him from his Nyanga homestead
His crime: attending
a meeting addressed by local MP and MDC spokesperson Hon. Douglas
Mwonzora on 13 February this year.
detained and assaulted him at Taziwa Shopping Centre in Nyanga before
handing him over to police at Nyamaropa Police Station, who charged
him with contravening section 36 (1) (a) of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
assaulted all over his body by a group of people led by a war veteran
called Wilfred Pokoto with sticks and a cattle prod during his detention,
according to a narration he gave The Legal Monitor a month before
he died. The Legal Monitor met Nyakauru in Harare where he was seeking
medical treatment. Unfortunately, he succumbed and passed on. His
testimonies to The Legal Monitor will remain an eternal record.
who accused him of leading MDC supporters to destroy some shops
belonging to ZANU PF supporters in the area, ordered him to lie
on his stomach before brutally assaulting him. They walk free up
condition was aggravated when he was detained for three weeks at
Mutare Remand Prison together with 23 other individuals including
Hon. Mwonzora after prosecutor Tirivanhu Mutyasiri vetoed a bail
order which had been granted.
still walk free. May his soul rest in eternal peace.
It was in the
same volatile Nyanga area where ZLHR had earlier held community
workshops to sensitise villagers about the Global
Political Agreement and transitional justice mechanisms.
This was after
the realisation that most villagers in this area were victims of
violence as well as looting of property by ZANU PF militia.
the workshops, 88 villagers were being charged with extortion for
demanding the return of property looted from them by ZANU PF supporters
in a classic case of how victims become the accused in Zimbabwe
where selective application of the law appears the norm.
The case was
dismissed after the villagers' lawyer Blessing Nyamaropa of
Yet, all these
cases do not highlight the indiscriminate use of cruelty like the
case of a toddler who was detained at the deathly Chikurubi Maximum
Prison as a terror suspect. The Legal Monitor widely reported the
story, ensuring maximum coverage.
was two years when the dreaded Central Intelligence Organisation
officials seized him with his mother, Violet Mupfuranhewe and father,
Collen Mutemagawu, both members of the MDC from their Banket home
in October 2008 on terrorism and banditry allegations. They were
kept in various torture locations before finding a home at Chikurubi.
consider himself fortunate to have left Chikurubi Maximum Security
Prison alive. Hundreds of prisoners continue to lose their lives
after succumbing to hunger and disease in a prison known for atrocious
But life remains
tough for him.
continues to haunt him, according to his parents.
haunted and experiences nightmares," said Nigel's mother.
He dropped out
of nursery school a few months after his release from Chikurubi
as he struggled to cope with normal life.
Today, his tormentors
walk free and continue perpetrating more human rights abuses. Similarly,
The Legal Monitor will be around to report on such abuses without
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