HomeLocal NewsGwisai ‘tortured’

Gwisai ‘tortured’

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International Socialist Organisation (ISO) general coordinator Munyaradzi Gwisai, accused alongside 45 others of allegedly plotting an Egyptian-style uprising in Zimbabwe, on Thursday said they were tortured by police who wanted them to confess to treason.

Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi ordered the accused to remain in detention and return on Monday, saying only a higher court was empowered to free them on bail because the charges were grave and punishable by death.

He ordered they undergo medical examinations before the hearing to verify their allegations.

The former Highfield MDC MP said they were taken to Harare Central Police Station’s Law and Order Section where they were questioned about their plans.

Gwisai told court each time he gave an answer his interrogators were not satisfied with, he would be forced to lie down before being assaulted with a plank on his back and buttocks.

He said he received more than 20 lashes from at least 10 men and one woman interrogating him.

He said he had difficulty sitting after the beatings.

“I was subjected to the beatings under recording with particular instruction that I must admit that I had said ‘Abasha Mugabe (Down with Mugabe)’ and that ‘he must be removed’,” Gwisai said.

Gwisai, the acting director of the Commercial Law Institute at the University of Zimbabwe, admitted having organised a meeting with a view to discuss the question of democracy and constitutionalism taking into account recent events in North Africa, particularly Egypt and Tunisia.

He said among the arrested were HIV activists who had been invited to the meeting.

They were allegedly denied medication by the police, Gwisai told the court.

He dismissed the state’s assertion that the meeting was intended to mobilise people to revolt against the government.

He said as a lecturer, he had a duty to teach what socialism, capitalism and democracy were and how the systems operated taking into account the events in North Africa.

Defence lawyer Alec Muchadehama said the accused told lawyers they were beaten with broomsticks on their bodies, buttocks and the soles of their feet.

He said others were denied medication and access to lawyers.

Muchadehama made an application for refusal of further remand citing lack of evidence to show reasonable suspicion Gwisai and his 45 co-accused, who were arrested on Saturday, committed treason as alleged.

The lawyer said the arrest was unlawful and it was a dragnet form of arrest akin to abduction.

“My clients were holding an innocent meeting on issues that concern them, when police pounced and arrested some of them in the meeting room while some were in other offices minding their business and some were actually vending,” Muchadehama said.

Meanwhile, the court is set to make a ruling on Monday on the application by The Standard editor Nevanji Madanhire, reporter Nqobani Ndlovu and Alpha Media Holdings (AMH), represented by human resources manager Loud Ramakgapola, for referral of their case to the Constitutional Court.

The application was made by defence lawyer Chris Mhike on Thursday when the trio appeared in court on charges of publishing statements that “undermine public confidence in law enforcement agency”.

The state sought to have the matter postponed, but magistrate Donald Ndirowei insisted the prosecution make its submissions in response to the defence application for referring the case to the Supreme Court.

The magistrate repeatedly asked the prosecutor to respond to the defence application, but the prosecutor ended up saying: “I submit that the court can use its discretion.” Mhike immediately asked the court to grant his application.

“In light of the state’s response, we pray for both applications to be granted and the matter to be referred to the Supreme Court for determination and the accused removed from remand,” submitted Mhike.

Ndirowei said he would deliver the ruling on Monday.
Madanhire, Ndlovu and AMH are being charged with publishing and communicating false statements prejudicial to the state.

In another court case, the state on Thursday declined to prosecute Masvingo-based journalist Golden Maunganidze for defamation after he allegedly wrote a satirical story linking Zanu PF Masvingo provincial chairman Lovemore Matuke to a sex scandal.

The state found no evidence to support Matuke’s claims.

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