Five Chitungwiza civic leaders released without charge

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THE five Chitungwiza civic leaders arrested early this week over allegations of addressing an “unsanctioned” residents’ meeting in Seke were released without charge on Thursday after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) conceded that the meeting did not require police clearance.

PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI

Jacob Rukweza and Tinashe Kazuru of the Chitungwiza Residents Trust (Chitrest), Simbarashe Moyo of the Combined Harare Residents’ Association, George Makoni of the Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe and Janet Kanavete of Zimbabwe Human Rights Association spent two nights in police custody for allegedly contravening the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).

The meeting had been organised by Chitrest to mobilise residents to demonstrate against government’s planned demolition of illegal structures in the dormitory town.

Representatives of the NPA and the activists’ lawyers Kennedy Masiye, Marufu Mandevere and Gift Mtisi later reached consensus that under Posa which was the basis for the civic leaders’ arrest, did not require police clearance because it was not a political gathering.

Masiye, however, told NewsDay yesterday that the arrest was “malicious” because the police were aware that the activists had not violated the law.

“There was no ignorance (of the law) on the part of the police because these are the people who enforce the law and they should know about certain provisions,” he said. “In my view it was a malicious arrest because this was not a political meeting.”

The NPA conceded that none of the civic leaders who had been arrested was the convener of the meeting, but they were all participants at the gathering.

In a statement yesterday, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights said: “Zimbabwean police have routinely abused some provisions of Posa to severely curtail the right to free assembly that is articulated in various established human rights instruments to which Zimbabwe is, of its own free will, a State party. These include the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

1 COMMENT

  1. We don’t need the West to tell what abuse of human rights is. The daft ZRP is always shooting itself in the foot by acting in such foolish manner in order to curry favour with their ruinous masters,ZANU PF who do not want to acknowledge the changed circumstances ushered in by the new constitution.It will take some time for ZANU PF and its police to begin to behave in a civilised manner. For now they are still the cavemen of Zimbabwe’s politics.

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