GOVERNMENT’s brutal crackdown on protesters has once again come under the spotlight after gory images of tortured Harare protesters were captured, as the victims appeared at the Mbare Magistrates’ Court for remand on Monday.
The victims claimed they were tortured in police custody following their arrest in Glen View on Saturday.
The protesters, who included Glen View North MP Fani Munengami (MDC-T), had participated in demonstrations organised by the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera).
Gut-wrenching pictures, taken at the Mbare Magistrates’ Court on Monday after defence lawyers Jeremiah Bamu and Moses Nkomo requested to give evidence of police brutality to magistrate Stanley Mambanje, showed some women with severely lacerated backsides, after they were allegedly whipped with police rubber truncheons.
Nkomo said the pictures were taken inside the courtroom as evidence that his clients had been brutalised.
“Yes, the pictures are very authentic. They were taken in the courtroom yesterday (Monday). They were tortured while in police custody on Saturday. They were beaten with rubber truncheons by the Police Support Unit.
“The six protesters arrested in Glen View were severely beaten. They claim that they were shoved into a police truck where officers took turns to assault them as and when they felt like as the truck patrolled Harare,” he said, adding that eight more protesters were also arrested and allegedly assaulted in Harare’s Waterfalls suburb.
Nkomo said three female protesters — Esther Mutsigiri, Gladys Musindo and Beatrice Rutsvara — were badly assaulted along with Munengami and 13 others and they were denied medical attention.
The suspects were yesterday granted $400 bail coupled with stringent reporting conditions.
Munengami said he sustained swollen feet and back, while other protesters went through the whole court session lying on their bellies, as they could not sit up straight.
Nkomo said his clients managed to identify one of their assailants, Detective Assistant Inspector Mutsekwa from Waterfalls Police Station, who was at Mbare Magistrates’ Court as a State witness.
Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo and police national spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba, have repeatedly denied that their officers use brute force to crush demonstrations.
Mambanje ordered the State to investigate the allegations of police brutality and report back on October 6.
Transform Zimbabwe leader and Nera’s former convener Jacob Ngarivhume, said Munengami and his co-accused were in bad shape when they appeared in court.
“They were in a sorry state. The MP could hardly walk. Three women were heavily bleeding from the still fresh assault wounds. They could not sit and were lying on the floor throughout the proceedings,” he said.
“Everyone in the court cried at the sight of the brutally-violated women. I imagined the horror they went through and I shed tears too. I have grown up in this environment and I know what brutality is.”
Former Finance minister Tendai Biti’s opposition People’s Democratic Party yesterday condemned the police brutality and described President Robert Mugabe’s government as “fascist”.
“Saturday’s events show that the Zanu PF regime only believes in the use of violence against the people raising genuine issues that they have no jobs and are pleading with the government to resolve these issues as a matter of urgency,” Biti said.
“It is also regrettable that Zanu PF has considered turning Zimbabwe into a country that is dominated by violence, coercion and fear.”
Another group of protesters from Kuwadzana and Dzivarasekwa, represented by Gift Mtisi, meanwhile, appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court, where they also complained of heavy battering by police officers.