Annual Report: Zimbabwe 2013

May 30, 2013

Annual Report: Zimbabwe 2013

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  • An MDC-T (MDC-Tsvangirai) official, Cephas Magura, died in Mudzi district in May following clashes between MDC-T and ZANU-PF supporters at Chimukoko Business Centre. ZANU-PF supporters reportedly attacked people who were attending a police-sanctioned meeting of the MDC-T. Following the incident, seven ZANU-PF members, including a councillor in Mudzi, David Chimukoko, were arrested and charged with murder and public violence.
  • On 21 September, a group of soldiers in Mutoko district, Mashonaland East Province, disrupted a meeting led by Professor Welshman Ncube (MDC-N, the smaller of the two MDC parties), beating supporters.
  • In November, another group of soldiers in Zhombe district, Midlands Province, attacked MDC-T supporters attending a meeting at Samambwa Business Centre. Dozens of supporters were injured, including two men in their seventies who arrived at a Harare hospital with broken limbs and internal injuries.
  • Some of the 29 MDC-T members arrested in May 2011 in connection with the death of police officer Petros Mutedza, in Glen View, spent more than a year in custody. However, Cynthia Manjoro was granted bail in October after a state witness said that she had been arrested and detained to bait another suspect who was her friend. Solomon Madzore, the MDC-T's Youth Assembly president was also granted bail on 13 November together with another detainee, Taruvinga Magaya. It was widely believed that some of the suspects were arrested solely because they were known MDC-T activists living in Glen View. By the end of year only Last Maengahama, Tungamirai Madzokere, Rebecca Mafikeni, Yvonne Musarurwa and Simon Mapanzure remained in custody.
  • On 5 November, police in Harare raided the offices of the Counselling Services Unit (CSU), a registered medical clinic providing services to victims of organized violence and torture. Police initially arrived without a search warrant and threatened to force entry. After several hours they produced a warrant to recover “offensive and subversive material” which “defaces any house, building, wall, fence, lamp-post, gate or elevator”, and illegally seized confidential patient medical records, a computer and documents not covered by the warrant. Five staff were arbitrarily arrested. Two were released the same day, but three others, Fidelis Mudimu, Zachariah Godi and Tafadzwa Geza, were illegally detained in police custody for four days, and on the third day they were illegally transferred more than 400km away to Bulawayo. The three men were released on bail on 8 November charged with “causing malicious damage to property”, in contravention of Section 140 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. The charges against Fidelis Mudimu were later dropped after it was revealed that he was out of the country at the time of the alleged crime.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

Throughout the year, activists from the activist organization Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) had their activities routinely disrupted by anti-riot police. Many were beaten and some sustained injuries. At least 200 arrests of WOZA members were recorded.

  • On 19 January, 17 activists were arrested in Bulawayo and taken to Donnington Police station where some were beaten and ill-treated. They were later transferred to Bulawayo Central Police station where the abuse continued, before being released without charge.
  • On 12 March, WOZA leaders Jennifer Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, who were appearing in court on bail for trumped-up charges of kidnapping and theft, had their bail unjustly revoked by a Bulawayo Magistrate and were remanded in prison. The defence lawyers had asked for postponement of the case as Jennifer Williams was in poor health and had a doctor's letter substantiating her state of health. However, the prosecutor accused her of feigning illness.
  • On 27 June, 101 WOZA members were arrested in Bulawayo the morning after a peaceful march and detained for five hours, before being released without charge.

Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act continued to be applied arbitrarily, with political activists and others being charged with “undermining the authority of or insulting the President”. At least 12 people were arrested on these charges.