POLICE yesterday swooped on Jestina Mukoko’s Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) and confiscated cellphones, business cards, hard drives, disks and various other data gadgets as an onslaught on civil society intensifies ahead of elections.
When NewsDay visited the ZPP offices, a group of eight police officers from the Law and Order Section were combing the offices and confiscating all material they suspected could provide them with information that would incriminate ZPP under the watchful eye of Human Rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa.
Mtetwa, who was in the company of other lawyers from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Gift Mtisi and Tawanda Zhuwarara, said the police were looking for any incriminating evidence.
According to the search warrant shown to NewsDay by Mtetwa, police pounced on the ZPP offices because they “suspected possession of articles intended for criminal use as defined by Section 40 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9.23.”
They were also suspected of contravening the Immigration Act through entry in the country by evasion and breach of customs laws through smuggling. The search warrant authorised the police officers to search and confiscate “any subversive material, documents, gadgets and recordings”.
However, there was no clarity on what was smuggled or if there were workers who had no permits at ZPP.
“They did not tell us what was smuggled and who is here without proper immigration documents,” Mtetwa said.
This year alone, police have stormed various non-governmental organisations offices in Harare and Bulawayo, briefly detaining ZimRights boss Okay Machisa and Dumisani Nkomo of Habakkuk Trust.
This is not the first time police have stormed the ZPP. In 2008, Mukoko was abducted and tortured for alleged recruitment of youths for military training in neighbouring Botswana to unseat President Robert Mugabe’s regime.