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Mukoko hands herself in to the police
Nomalanga Moyo, SW Radio Africa
March 08, 2013
View this article
on the SW Radio Africa website
Prominent human rights
defender Jestina Mukoko handed herself in to the police Friday morning,
after claims by Zimbabwe’s top cop that she was on the run.
Augustine Chihuri issued a nation-wide appeal on state media saying
police wanted to interview Mukoko in connection with operating an
“unregistered” and “unlawful” organisation.
“We want her to
give us the mission of her organisation, thus anyone with information
on where she is, help us,” Chihuri appealed Thursday.
Mukoko is the
director of the Zimbabwe
Peace Project Trust (ZPP) which, together with other human rights
groups, has been a target of recent raids by security agents in
a well-orchestrated campaign of intimidation ahead of elections
set for this year.
of the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights said Mukoko went to the police station
with her lawyers and was charged
with “running an unregistered organisation, taking part in
the running of an unregistered organisation, possessing smuggled
radios and cellphones, and failing or refusing to register as a
Mukoko was interrogated
and released into the custody of her lawyers.
On Thursday Mtetwa told
SW Radio Africa that contrary to claims that the ZPP was unregistered,
she had provided its registration papers and Constitution to the
police last month.
She said: “We informed
the police that ZPP’s board had resolved that it be represented
by its chairperson, Dr Solomon Zwana, as Mukoko is simply an employee
and does not have board authority to speak or act on behalf of ZPP.
rejected this and insisted they were interested in no-one else but
Mukoko. They have used her as an example before and have to use
her again as part of election-time intimidation.”
the latest actions by the police as an unjustified crusade against
Mukoko, who had been targeted by the state campaign against human
rights activists when she was abducted
and tortured on spurious treason charges in 2008.
harassment of Mukoko follows a raid
on the ZPP offices on February 11th, when mobile phones, wind up
radios, files with donor information, political violence reports
and DVDs were confiscated.
Civic organisations fear
there will be more similar arrests as the country draws closer to
next week’s referendum, that is set to pave way for a general
ZimRights head Okay Machisa was arrested
and detained on allegations that his group was involved in an illegal
voter registration exercise.
Since last year
a number of groups, including the Counselling
Services Unit which supports victims of torture and the Zimbabwe
Electoral Support Network which observes polls, have been raided
and staff detained.
of opposition party supporters has also been reported across the
country, with some observers predicting that the general poll after
the referendum will be bloodier
On Thursday Chihuri,
a fierce Mugabe loyalist, reiterated the threat issued last month
that the police will crack down on civic groups, seen as “causing
chaos” and a “serious security threat”.
rights organisation Amnesty International said the alert issued
by the Zimbabwe police on state television, implying that a human
rights defender was on the run from the law, was a new law in the
recent crackdown on dissent.
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