Police on Tuesday accused the MDC-T together with its allies of lying that their members were arrested while conducting a prayer meeting in Glen Norah last weekend when the meeting was actually a political gathering.
Police spokesperson Inspector James Sabau yesterday told NewsDay the gathering was clearly political as it was organised by the MDC-T in conjunction with the Christ of Church of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the National Constitutional Assembly, ZimRights and Crisis Coalition.
Sabau said about 600 people attended the aborted gathering where a total of 14 people, including four pastors, including Bishop Makome, Bishop Isaiah and a female reverend, as well as church members and civic and community leaders were arrested.
The MDC-T, which yesterday maintained the gathering was not political, demanded police to immediately release the detained congregants.
In a statement, the MDC-T said they were prayerfully commemorating the events of March 11, 2007 when MDC-T activists including party president Morgan Tsvangirai were arrested and assaulted.
“Witnesses who attended the disrupted church service charge the police fired teargas inside the church building to disperse them after initially blocking the entrance to St Peter’s Kubatana Centre in Highfield,” read an MDC-T statement.
“Even children who were within and outside the parameters of the church were affected by the tearsmoke and the police clampdown.”
The MDC- T said the church service which was being held under the theme, “Saving Zimbabwe . . . The Unfinished Journey”, was an opportunity to pray for peace in Zimbabwe and to help save the nation.
But Sabau said the gathering was in contravention of Section 25 of the Public Order and Security Act because it did not fall under what could be termed a bona fide religious gathering.
“These people who called themselves Christians suddenly turned violent against the police and beat up two police constables from Glen Norah, injuring one on the back and the other on the knee. We had to use tearsmoke as a last resort because these people had become rowdy. When you throw stones at the police there is no way the police would say we have been defeated and tell the people to carry on with their activities,” said Sabau.
“How can people who say they are Christians beat up police officers? Are we dealing with political parties or Christians?” Sabau asked.