Missing ZimRights staff finally found in Lupane

Two employees from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights), who have been missing since their arrest on Monday, were finally located by their lawyers at a Lupane police station on Thursday.

Florence Ndlovu, the ZimRights regional coordinator for Matabeleland province, and Walter Dube a paralegal officer, were arrested on Monday in Tsholotsho, after they were banned from holding an anti-torture workshop at Tshino Business centre.

Although police at Nyamandlovu Police Station had denied holding Ndlovu and Dube in their cells, the ZimRights employees said that they had been held at the police station since Monday, where they were denied access to their lawyers. The pair was only moved to Lupane Police Station on Wednesday where Ndlovu was officially charged with communicating false statements prejudicial to the State.

The police insist that Ndlovu told villagers at Mondays anti-torture workshops that the police torture and assault people. The ZimRights official has denied the allegations, and said that she only spoke about examples and scenarios of torture.

Dube meanwhile was released without charge. The police intimidation of active civic groups is intensifying, and last week employees of the Centre for Community Development were detained for several hours in Mashonaland Central.

The Centres Vellim Nyama and Tsungai Vere, along with the Director of the Institute for Young Womens Development, Glanis Changachirere, were set to address a meeting about the constitutional referendum and possible elections, as well as service delivery.

But they were stopped by police who insisted on searching their car and their personal belonging. The police found copies of the Centres Thinking Beyond newsletter, and other campaign materials, and then began to interrogate the group. The police officials insisted that they had not been given clearance to hold any meetings.

All four activists were eventually released after a pointless, time-wasting detention and delay of law-abiding human rights defenders, according to the Centre for Community Development. The group said in a statement that it denounces the unconstitutional violation of random and unjustifiable searches of vehicles and persons. This violates all personal bodily integrity and criminalises individuals for no justifiable reason apart from a high-handed abuse and display of police power.

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