POLICE unleashed an orgy of violence that left more than 20 people seriously injured as they swooped on opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party activists gathered at their leader Jameson Timba’s house in Harare on Sunday afternoon.

The police accused the CCC activists of holding an illegal meeting.

According to reports, at least three of the activists require attention from orthopaedic doctors, while more than five fractured their hands in the melee.

According to CCC sources, at least 79 activists were celebrating the Day of the African Child at Timba’s private residence in Avondale.

The victims were separately put in cells at different police stations, with 58 young activists placed at Harare Central Police Station, while more than 20 were  detained at Avondale Police Station.

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The activists’ lawyer Agency Gumbo confirmed that more than 20 party supporters were injured, with Timba suffering serious injuries.

“We have more than 20 people that have been confirmed injured by doctors, but the injuries are not severe,” Gumbo said.

“We have people like Jameson Timba, who has a bit of semi-serious injuries, because he had a swollen elbow which he got after being beaten by riot police.

“We had our doctors come. The doctors looked at them, but obviously because of detention, we can only then be able to have proper X-rays done on them after they are released tomorrow [oday].”

He said the activists were scheduled to appear in court today.

It is alleged that when police besieged the place, they fired gunshots and tear canisters before ordering the party activists to jump into a swimming pool.

“The police arrived at a private residence, at Senator Timba’s residence. When the riot entered, they started asking people to jump into the swimming pool,” Gumbo said.

“This was done regardless of what they had in their pockets, with some having cellphones in their pockets. Everyone was just commanded to jump into the swimming pool.”

Gumbo said victims were taken to police stations in their drenched clothes and some party officials and loyalists had to bring blankets for their colleagues to reduce the impact of the cold night.

“So that is what was happening. When they arrived at the holding cells, everyone was wet because they had been forced to jump into the pool, which is unethical.

“The police arrived and threw tear gas, after that they fired guns in the air.

“After that, they bundled everyone and said jump into the swimming pool. We made sure they had blankets.

“Of course, that was detention but when we did interviews we made sure everyone had blankets and slept in a proper holding cell. But the people were brutalised.”

CCC party spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi yesterday condemned the police brutality.

“We condemn the arrests as unlawful and undemocratic things meant to decimate the alternative in Zimbabwe,” Mkwananzi said.

 “The Day of the African Child is recognised and celebrated worldwide, including here in Zimbabwe.

“It is actually the first time that our youth have been arrested for celebrating a day that celebrates the African child and the hard rights and freedoms from colonial and dictatorial regimes.”

Meanwhile, police also swooped on CCC youths gathered at the party provincial headquarters in Chinhoyi, Mashonaland West province disrupted a meeting which they said was unsanctioned.

Fearing for their lives, the youth ran in different directions.

A top ally of opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, Amos Chibaya, who was expected to address the youth, said “the regime is running scared”.

“The regime is now panicking. Their response was a repeat of yesterday [Sunday] as they fear that our youth will exercise their democratic right,” Chibaya said.

National police spokesperson Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday confirmed the arrest of Timba and the other opposition activists.

He said the operation was initiated following a tip-off.

“I can confirm that 70 suspects were arrested at Jameson Timba’s house in Harare for conducting an unsanctioned gathering,” Nyathi said.

“During the arrests, they became violent and started throwing stones at the police officers. Reinforcements were later called in. We will, however, release more details tomorrow (today).”

When contacted for a comment on the latest developments, including allegations of assault, Nyathi said he could only respond to the reports today.

He said he was travelling from Rusape last night where he had gone to assess the scene of a Pashonlink bus accident where eight people were burnt beyond recognition.

The bus, which had 65 passengers on board, was carrying Anglican Manicaland Diocese church members who were returning from a pilgrimage at Bernard Mizeki shrine in Marondera.

Nyathi said some passengers alerted the driver of a fire that was coming out of the engine, before the whole bus went up in flames as the driver stopped the bus to investigate.

“Subsequently, a ball of fire came out of the engine and engulfed the whole bus after the driver opened the engine cover,” Nyathi said.

“Experts are currently at the scene to obtain DNA samples to identify the eight victims. More details will be released in due course.”

The injured were taken to Rusape General Hospital and Victoria Chitepo Hospital in Mutare, with some of them treated and discharged.