Opposition activists Joana Mamombe, Netsai Marova and Cecilia Chimbiri, together with their lawyer, were rearrested by the police on 31 July while on their way to Harare Central Police Station where they were scheduled to report as part of bail conditions. Joana Mamombe and Netsai Marova were later released without charge. Cecilia Chimbiri was only released after being charged with insulting a police officer after a soldier falsely accused her of insulting him and assaulted her with a whip.
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Hon Kazembe Kazembe
Minister of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage
11th Floor Mukwati Building
Cnr 4th Street and Selous Avenue
P Bag 7703, Causeway, Harare
Email: [email protected]
Ambassador Ammon M. Mutembwa
Embassy of Zimbabwe
1608 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington DC 20009
Phone: 202 332 7100 I Fax: 202 483 9326
Email: [email protected] [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
Minister Kazembe Kazembe,
Three opposition activists, Joana Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova, abducted from state custody, sexually violated, tortured and hospitalized in May 2020, simply for leading a demonstration over the government’s failure to provide social protection for the poor during the COVID-19 lockdown, continue to be persecuted in Zimbabwe.
On 31 July, the three activists appeared in court following a state summons, in connection with charges brought against them on 10 June of ‘communicating or publishing false statement prejudicial to the state’ and ‘defeating or obstructing the course of justice’. After their court appearance, they were accompanied by their lawyer to report to the Harare Central Police station as required by their bail conditions. They were stopped by police and soldiers near the ruling party, ZANU-PF’s, Headquarters. A soldier falsely accused Cecilia Chimbiri of insulting him and whipped her with a heavy leather whip. The three activists and their lawyer were arrested and taken to Harare Central Police Station, where police refused to record Cecilia Chimbiri’s complaint and charged her with insulting a police officer. She was later released and will appear in court.
I am deeply concerned by the assault on Cecilia Chimbiri and the subsequent arrest of the three activists with their lawyer, which prevented them from meeting their bail conditions and resulted in the fabricated charges against Cecilia Chimbiri.
I urge you to immediately drop all the charges against the three activists; undertake a thorough, independent, impartial, transparent and effective investigation into their enforced disappearance from state custody and into all allegations of sexual assault and torture; and bring to justice those suspected to be responsible and ensure that the victims and their families have access to justice and effective remedies, which include restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.