Human rights lawyers report humanitarian crisis among detained Chingwizi occupants

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has reported a deteriorating humanitarian situation among Chingwizi residents who were arrested by police following a flare-up of violence at the holding camp set up to accommodate flood victims.

Violence broke out recently as the villagers who were moved to Chingwizi refugee camp in Masvingo after being displaced by floods early this year became restless with government for failure to speedily relocate them to promised plots.

The violence left two police cars being burnt down and several people injured, with the law enforcers and the army swiftly moving in to beat up and arrest the occupants of the camp.

“Some of the detained Chingwizi villagers’ health is at risk after going for almost one week without accessing their anti-retroviral drugs after they were arrested by the police,” said ZLHR in a statement on Thursday.

The organisation added that the arrests were negatively affecting children.

One of the detainees, Collin Tandare, left her two children behind without anyone taking care of them and they were reported to be missing.

The police also picked up a 84 year old man, Kandros Purazeni, and a woman, Ellen Muteiwa, who has been detained together with her one year old child, in addition to some villagers who are said to have been away when the violence broke out at Chingwizi.

ZLHR is frantically working to have the 29 villagers who were arrested last Sunday and Monday and are now in remand custody freed.

On Wednesday, human rights lawyers Blessing Nyamaropa, Phillip Shumba, Collin Maboke and Martin Mureri filed an application at the Chiredzi courts challenging the placement of their clients on remand.

They argued that there was no reasonable suspicion that they had committed an offence and that the State had failed to indicate what each of the villagers did to link them to the alleged violence.

However, Chiredzi Magistrate Tayegwa Chibanda, dismissed the application,forcing the lawyers to file a bail application today (Thursday).

The bail application will be heard at the same courts on Friday.

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