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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Index of articles on the mistreatment of the legal profession in Zimbabwe

  • Testimony from Zimbabwean lawyer assaulted by police outside the High Court
    Mordecai P Mahlangu
    May 10, 2007

    Visit the special index page on the mistreatment of the legal profession in Zimbabwe

    Those of you who care about human rights, the rule of law, human decency etc may wish to read this little report.

    I was one of the lawyers assaulted by Mugabe's thugs in Harare today 8 May 2007. Our crime, we sought to present to the Minister of Justice and Commissioner of Police a petition by Zimbabwe lawyers protesting the unlawful arrest and detention of two of our colleagues and the defiance by the police of court orders requiring their release and declaring their arrest and detention unlawful.

    We assembled outside our High Court and before we could exercise our constitutional right were ordered by a senior police officer to disperse or else. We sought to comply and as we were trooping away some of the police thugs in plain clothes said we were moving too slowly and in the wrong direction. In actual fact we were going to our offices. They then set upon us with rubber truncheons and baton sticks. I tried to assist one of the lady lawyers as she was close to being hit and for my chivalry was singled out. I was hit twice on the head and back four times on my arms by a female who seemed to relish assaulting an unarmed defenceless lawyer. I ended up with a swollen head and badly bruised and mrked arms and back. Others of my legal colleagues were hit in varying degrees. The president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe Mrs Beatrice Mtetwa, was in fact arrested with three others, driven away in an open truck and assaulted severely and needed medical attention. By comparison I probably got off lightly though I am still in pain.

    None of us was charged with any offence for we committed none. All we wanted to do was to assert the rule of law and persuade the Mugabe regime to respect its laws and the rights of its citizens. For our efforts we were violated and humiliated but we cannot give up on our country. We cannot yield to a despot or succumb to this lawlessness. While we do not plan to be martyrs, we will nevertheless stand for what is right. For all its brutality the government of Mugabe and its instruments of oppression have lost the battle of ideas and values and rely on brut force to assert themselves. In the long term this is not sustainable, as history amply demonstrates.

    Some of you may ask, how can we help? Well I have no great ideas in this regard. The least you can do is pray for the people of this land and for good to triumph over evil. You may also document these atrocities so that those responsible may know that they will one day be required to account for their misdeeds. You may also assure us you care about our battles; otherwise we must leave it to you to think of ways of helping shape a better future for our land.

    I suspect that I might get into trouble for this email but others in my country have made greater sacrifices than any I have so far contemplated.

    Regards and many thanks for reading this,

    Mordecai P Mahlangu

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