Police seize violence pictures

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Police in Masvingo have confiscated pictures from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Organisation (Zimrights) which showcased the 2008 political violence and arrested the organisers.

Sources from Masvingo said the police arrested Joel Hita and three other Zimrights employees Cynthia Manjoro, Olivia Gumbo and Leo Chamawinya on Monday before taking away the pictures.

Okay Machisa, the ZimRights director, described the police actions as “barbaric” as their function was by invitation.

“It’s very unfortunate that Masvingo police officers had to confiscate those pictures because the same exhibition had gone through Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare. The function again was strictly by invitation and I don’t know why they are charging us under POSA,” said Machisa.

The same exhibition titled “Reflections” was officially opened by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Harare last month before Home Affairs co-minister Giles Mutsekwa graced a similar function in Mutare.

Hita was eventually released from custody on Tuesday but was expected to appear in court on Wednesday facing charges of holding a public function without seeking police clearance.

“This is another barbaric harassment and persecution of human rights defenders and campaigners. It is real people acting out the law. The Police were ordered by a High Court in Harare recently to return pictures seized at another exhibition. This is a continuation of the harassment of civil society organisations in Zimbabwe,” said Machisa.

He said Zimrights would continue to showcase the pictures in other cities across the country.

“The police still want to undermine the process of national healing. We will not be deterred by the harassment and we believe there cannot be any real national healing without truth telling,” said Machisa.

Masvingo provincial police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Prosper Mugauri, declined to comment on the matter referring all enquiries to the headquarters

Zimrights was last month forced to abandon the photo exhibition showing gory pictures of the victims of the 2008 political violence after police invaded their offices seeking to seize the pictures in defiance of a High Court order.

The exhibition was supposed to run for 10 days but was later abandoned due to constant harassment by the police.

Zimrights however vowed it would stage exhibitions throughout the country.