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Mnangagwa's govt urges police to arrest three MDC youths

by Staff reporter
18 May 2020 at 19:32hrs | Views
IN A move that is likely to further stoke political tensions in the country, authorities are demanding the arrest of three MDC youth leaders who participated in a flash demonstration in Harare last week.

This comes as the three women at the centre of the furore - Harare West MP Joanna Mamombe, Cecilia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova - have alleged that they were abducted and tortured by suspected State security agents before being dumped near Bindura, in the aftermath of their demo.

Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi told the Daily News yesterday that police should arrest the women for contravening the country's lockdown regulations which outlaw public gatherings.

"They are trying to run away from the fact they broke the law by undertaking the demonstration, contrary to the declaration made under the current lockdown, which bans all public gatherings.

"They are now faking abduction and going to hospital in their futile bid. The fact remains that they broke the law by undertaking the demonstration.

"So, their diversionary tactics will not work. The police must arrest them and bring them to book," Ziyambi told the Daily News.

"I am very sure that the police will do their job to ensure that the organisers of the demonstration face the consequences of their actions," he added.

As part of enforcing compliance with the extended national lockdown, the government has instituted several new laws, including Statutory Instrument (SI) 83 of 2020 - which criminalises the gathering of two or more people, except in very special circumstances.

In this regard, any gathering of more than two people is prohibited - unless people are at a funeral or waiting for public transport.

But even under these two exemptions, the number of people so gathered should not exceed 50.
Outside of this, people are only allowed to leave their homes for essential goods and services - including going to shops to buy food, visiting pharmacies for medication, and going to fuel stations.

SI 83 also says if anyone is caught and refuses to return immediately to his or her home, or has no home, such people would be treated as having escaped from a place of detention, isolation or quarantine.

It also says those found guilty of hoarding food and medical supplies needed to combat Covid-19 will either be jailed for a year or pay a fine. Severe contraventions will attract both a jail term and a fine.

In addition, there is an added new law forcing people to wear face masks in public, failure of which the offenders could be jailed for up to 36 months or pay a fine of $500.

Last Wednesday, the three MDC youth leaders participated in a flash demonstration in Harare's high density suburb of Warren Park, before they were reported missing.

On Friday, the trio - which appeared to be in shock and pain - told the media how they had ended up in the hands of suspected State security operatives, who allegedly went on to assault them with guns and sticks during a "horrendous interrogation".

"They (the alleged abductors) were telling us to sing a song, saying that we are going to stop leading demonstrations. Whenever we stopped they would beat us under the feet and on our legs.

"We were put in shallow holes in the middle of nowhere. They gave me the nickname Dolly Parton as they took turns sucking my breasts.

"They forced us to drink our urine and then stripped me," Chimbiri said of her ordeal in between sobs.

"I thought they were going to rape me. They then shoved a gun into my private parts," she added.

While Chimbiri was able to narrate her ordeal, Mamombe and Marova just stared blankly at Nelson Chamisa - who

was accompanied by Tendai Biti - during a visit at the private hospital in Harare where they are getting treatment.

The trio's lawyer Jeremiah Bhamu said the youth leaders had been found in Mashonaland Central on Thursday evening, after they were allegedly dumped at Muchapondwa Business Centre, which is popularly known as kwaSupa.

"When we got there, they were in a terrible state. They looked emotionally unstable. We got there around midnight and they were in a terrible state and half naked.

"Police are saying they are keen to investigate how they were abducted," he said.
On their part, police said they were investigating the matter, to establish what exactly had happened to the MDC youth leaders.

"Police are conducting investigations to establish what transpired on May 13 after the flash demonstration in Warren Park 1.

"It is only after full investigations that the police will be in a position to pin-point what actually happened between May 13 and 15.

"This includes the movement of demonstrators, their associates and subsequent location of the trio at Muchapondwa Business Centre," the police said.

Meanwhile, Chimbiri's father Henry claimed that his daughter was initially taken to Harare Central Police Station by police in uniform last Wednesday, before they were allegedly smuggled out from there by men in balaclavas.

"I was in Warren Park and I heard that some youths were demonstrating. So, I phoned my daughter because I knew she was part of the youth executive. She told me that she was also around the area.

"She then later called me saying that they had been stopped at a roadblock at the Show Grounds by police officers in uniform, because they were putting on low quality masks.

"They were then taken to Harare Central Police Station. But little did they know that they were walking into a trap," Henry said.

"When I tried to call her later, her phone was not available. I went to the police station, but they claimed that they had not seen them.

"We then started looking for them around police stations, but to no avail.

"Later on Thursday, we received calls from some people in Mashonaland Central who said they had found three females who were crying," Henry added.

Mamombe's mother, Kudzai Chiwadza, also claimed that her daughter had been tortured severely - adding that at one time she was thrown out of a vehicle.

"When I saw Joana she was unable to talk. Now, she is complaining of headache.
"One of the girls said Joana was the primary target of the torture. I hope she has no internal injuries considering what she went through," Chiwadza said.

Zimbabwe is currently under an extended lockdown which authorities say will help the country to combat the local spread of Covid-19.

So far Zimbabwe has recorded four deaths from the reported 44 cases of coronavirus, whose infection rates health experts have warned could spike during the winter season.
Source - dailynews