BULAWAYO police yesterday arrested 16 MDC-T activists, among them party provincial chairperson and deputy mayor, Gift Banda in connection with the violence that broke out at the party’s offices, leaving a trail of destruction in the city on Sunday.
BY SILAS NKALA
The violence broke out when youth from a rival camp reportedly led by party leader Nelson Chamisa allegedly stormed and disrupted a consultative meeting organised by deputy president Thokozani Khupe, labelling her a rebel.
Several party members, believed to be Khupe’s followers, including her personal assistant, Witness Dube, were injured in the skirmishes.
The activists’ lawyer, Dumisani Dube, yesterday said his clients, who also included ward 1 councillor Mlandu Ncube, were still detained at Bulawayo Central Police Station, without charge.
“Banda and 15 others have been arrested for public violence and I am representing all of them. Police are refusing to release them and they are sleeping in police cells. All of them are denying the charge,” he said.
According to a police warned and cautioned statement signed by Ncube, the MDC-T activists are accused of contravening section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23, which prohibits public violence.
Ncube is alleged to have connived with members of his camp and pelted the party offices with stones to disturb a meeting addressed by Khupe, a charge he denied.
He confirmed that he was at the venue following an invite by provincial organiser Kwanele Phiri, but was denied entry into the party offices by youths from the rival camp.
He identified one of the youths as Mthokozisi Ncube.
Ncube said after being denied entry, he left the place, as he saw bricks flying from inside the premises and hitting Khupe’s car.
Banda made similar claims in his statement to the police.
Others, who were arrested, include Kunashe Muchemwa, Michael Mabusa, Raymond Dudzayi Gombedza, Felix Mhaka, Donaldson Mabuto, Sibongubuhle Sibanda and Takunda Madzana.
MDC-T provincial spokesperson, Felix Magalela Sibanda called on the police to avoid taking sides, but arrest and charge all party members involved in the clashes.
“It would appear the police have decided to charge and prosecute them. We, the MDC, are calling for fair litigation and there should be no fear or favour regardless of one’s political affiliation. We are calling for an impartial police to deal with violent individuals imported from outside Bulawayo and Zimbabwe,” he said.
Bulawayo police spokesperson, Inspector Precious Simango said she did not have full details of the matter.
“I just heard that about 20 MDC-T members were arrested, but I am yet to verify I will get back to you.”