THE opposition Transform Zimbabwe (TZ) party has claimed that its leader Jacob Ngarivhume was on Tuesday forced by police in Nyanga to sign a warned-and-cautioned statement admitting to the charge of addressing an illegal public meeting.
TZ spokesperson Sungai Mazando said Ngarivhume was charged with contravening Section 24(6) of the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) for addressing a church gathering at Holy Cross Church at Mangongondoza Township in Nyanga on June 18.
Ngarivhume was summoned last Friday, but reported at Nyanga Police Station on Tuesday where he was released after allegedly signing a warned-and-cautioned statement “under duress”.
Police accused him of turning a church gathering into a political meeting.
But Mazando yesterday insisted that the meeting was apolitical.
“He was charged with contravening section 24(6) of Posa citing failure to notify regulating authorities before conducting a public meeting,” Mazando said yesterday.
Mazando said Ngarivhume was detained for six hours, but was later advised by his lawyers to leave since he had not been arrested after the police officers at the charge office continuously said they were waiting for instructions from their superiors.
Before the alleged prayer meeting, Mazando claimed that Pauline Mutasa, the party’s Nyanga representative, spent a night in police custody before being released the following day without charge.
In recent months, Ngarivhume and TZ members have been arrested on several occasions for contravening Posa.
He was interrogated by police in Tsholotsho in April and detained in Chimanimani in June.
In July, he endured four days in police custody in Gweru and Harare.
On Wednesday, 13 TZ activists including Ngarivhume’s wife appeared at the Gweru Magistrates’ Court facing charges of contravening Section 37 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly participating in a gathering with the intention to promote public violence.
The trial was postponed to August 26 because the magistrate presiding over the matter was not available.
Mazando said the party would soldier on despite the arrests.