GALZ employees claim torture by police

keith_goddard_twoHARARE Two employees of the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) arrested last week on charges of undermining the authority of President Robert Mugabe have accused police of beating and torturing them, in yet another example of how little has changed within the countrys security forces despite formation of a uni

The GALZ employees Ellen Chademana and Ignatius Mhambi were arrested by police more than week ago on charges of possessing obscene, indecent or prohibited articles in breach of Section 26 (1) (b) of the Censorship and Entertainment Control Act chapter 10:04.

The police last Monday slapped the two accused with an additional charge of undermining the authority of Mugabe by displaying a plaque in their office showing former San Francisco Mayor Willie Lewis Brown Jr denouncing the Presidents homophobia.

The GALZ workers, who were granted bail last Thursday, told Magistrate Munamato Mutevedzi that they were tortured during their detention in police cells and pleaded with the court to order an investigation into the alleged torture.

Mhambi alleged that police used empty soft drinks bottles to assault him on his knees and forced him to sit in a position without a chair or any other tool for a long period. Chademana said the police also forced her to undertake the same action for a long period.

Several detainees have complained of being tortured while in police custody. Judges and magistrates have on many occasions asked police authorities to investigate the allegations of torture but to date no single police officer has ever been brought to court to answer to charges of torturing suspects.

Meanwhile the GLAZ workers were last Thursday released on bail and asked to return to court on June 10.

While homophobia is largely invisible in Zimbabwe, Mugabe is well known for his open dislike for gay and lesbian people who he has described as worse than dogs and pigs.

The Presidents supporters and government agencies have fought to keep the country’s small homosexual community away from the public view most notably by barring them from participating at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair and other public fora.

Earlier this year Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai publicly spoke out against homosexuality and said an exercise underway to write a new constitution for Zimbabwe should not be used to smuggle the rights of gay and lesbian people into the countrys fundamental law.

Post published in: Politics

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