ZRP denies torture charge (07-12-2006)

HARARE - It has emerged that the notorious Mbare-based Zanu (PF) terror squad, known as Chipangano, was responsible for the torture while in police custody of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and MDC leaders.
According to police sources, the acts of torture which led

to widespread international condemnation of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, were not committed by bona fide police officers, but by Zanu (PF) thugs.
The minister of home affairs, Kembo Mohadi, is said to be furious at the actions of the youth militia at Matapi Police Station in September and has allegedly demanded a full report.
The ZRP is facing a Z$2 billion lawsuit for damages as a result of the torture of ZCTU secretary general, Wellington Chibebe, and 14 other union and political leaders.
Top police sources this week gave The Zimbabwean a peek into the ZRP’s formal response to the lawsuit for unlawful arrest, detention, assault and torture.
The ZRP’s response came as a Harare Magistrate on Monday handed down judgement approving the referral of the ZCTU’s constitutional challenge against the repressive Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act to the Supreme Court on the grounds that it was ultra vires the Zimbabwe constitution.
Magistrate William Bhila gave the labour leaders a long remand to March 26 pending the determination of the Supreme Court on the constitutional challenge to Section 37 (1) of the Code which outlaws “uttering words that are obscene, insulting or such similar words.”
The ZCTU, through its prominent Harare lawyer Alec Muchadehama, argued that the clause violated citizens’ fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression.
The ZCTU further argued that according to Schedule 24 of the draconian Public Order and Security Act, labour organizations were among a special group that was exempt from notifying police before holding any demonstration.
The constitutional challenge, which is expected to be heard by a full Supreme Court bench, seeks the wholesale repeal of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act on the grounds that it violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many other domestic and international statutes.
In its 18-page response, the ZRP said there was a “lack of merit in the allegation” and that the accusations were “frivolous and vexatious.”
The ZCTU’s “intention to sue” cites all the police officers who were involved in the torture of labour leaders, among them Special Constable Oripa, Constable Nicasio Majaya, Constable Paswairi, Constable Edmore Munodawafa and the Matapi Police Station officer-in-charge, Chief Inspector Mukuze.

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