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  • Strikes and Protests 2007- Save Zimbabwe Campaign

  • Assaulted journalists and political leaders freed
    March 14, 2007

    View Save Zimbabwe Campaign index of images and articles

    Journalists Tsvangirai Mukwazhi and Tendai Musiyu who were assaulted by the police and spent two nights in police custody together with opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other human rights activists were on 14 March 2007 released from custody.

    The journalists and leaders of opposition political parties and civic society organisations were initially released by the police into the custody of their lawyers at 23h00 on 13 March 2007 and ordered to appear for initial remand at Harare Magistrate Court at 9am the next day.

    However, when they arrived at the magistrates courts on 14 March 2007, law officers from the Attorney General's Office and the police were not in attendance. Having waited for an hour for them to arrive, defence lawyers then made a decision that if the state was still interested in pursuing the matter, they would have to do so by way of summons.

    In view of that turn of events arising from the absence of the prosecutors, the defence lawyers then advised their clients to go home.

    The decision will hopefully bring to an end the circus which began with the arrest of the journalists and political leaders on 11 March 2007 which saw the police defying at least three High Court orders to allow lawyers access to the detained persons, allow medical practitioners access to the brutally assaulted detainees as well as to bring the accused persons to the High Court by 08h00 on 13 March 2007 in the event of the first two orders having been defied.

    Mukwazhi, a freelance photojournalist and Musiyu, who is a freelance film producer, were arrested together with Tsvangirai, Madhuku, MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti, Authur Mutambara leader of the other MDC faction, legislator Job Sikhala and Grace Kwinje, William Bango and Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai faction. Madhuku spotted a head bandage and his left arm was in a sling when they appeared in court on 13 March 2007 and subsequently referred to hospital for treatment.

    The MDC leader is in the intensive care unit and is believed to have fractured his skull following the assaults by the police.

    While MISA-Zimbabwe welcomes the release of the journalists and political and civic leaders, MISA-Zimbabwe deplores the heavy-handed manner with which the police continue to abuse, harass and assault Zimbabweans who have the right to their constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression.

    As a multi-party democracy, Zimbabwe should treat opposition leaders as well as journalists conducting their lawful duty of gathering and disseminating information with the respect and dignity that they deserve.

    Gift Tandare, an MDC activist, was shot and killed in Highfield on 11 March 2007 when police cordoned off Zimbabwe Grounds, venue of the planned national day of prayer organised under the auspices of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign leading to the arrest and assault of the journalists, opposition and civic leaders.

    In a blatant violation of the fundamental rights of freedom of expression, assembly and association on 21 February 2007 the government imposed a three-month ban on demonstrations and political rallies in Harare.

    Visit the MISA-Zimbabwe fact sheet

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