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Police assault theatre artists
December 01, 2006

Police in Bulawayo on 28 November 2006 severely assaulted four street theatre artists for satirising Zimbabwe’s worsening socio-economic crisis following the staging of a play dubbed Indhlala (Hunger).

The four members of Umkhula theatre group who were assaulted with batons and planks and ordered to roll on the tarmac, were only released the next day without charges after being accused of staging a play aimed at inciting people to revolt against President Robert Mugabe.

The police also accused them of being agents of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Police in Bulawayo confirmed the arrests but denied assaulting the artists saying they were arrested for "blocking the pavement".

On 13 September 2006 the police brutally assaulted leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) ahead of planned nationwide demonstrations to protest against the worsening economic hardships. ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibhebhe was hospitalised after sustaining serious head injuries following the brutal assaults in condemned cells at Matapi Police Station in Harare.

In an interview with ZimOnline, one of the artists said: "But we are just actors with nothing to do with politics. We live on acting by capturing what is relevant to people’s lives - and currently, hunger and long queues are the main theme."

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