Armed police block High Court entry in MDC-T activists’ case


Commissioner general Augustine Chihuri

By Tererai Karimakwenda
05 June 2011

There was more drama at the High Court in Harare on Tuesday as heavily armed police blocked entry to hundreds of relatives, friends and party supporters who wanted to attend the bail hearing of the 29 MDC-T activists facing charges of killing a Glen View cop.

The police move follows a dramatic Monday when police fired teargas at crowds that had gathered outside the High Court in solidarity with the jailed activists, whose murder trial officially got underway Monday. There were scuffles with police but no injuries or arrests were reported.

In a statement the MDC-T said: “The police’s heavy-handedness in the past two days is a clear indication that some senior Zimbabwe Republic Police officers are working as political commissars for ZANU PF.” The party called for the resignation of “part time” commissioner general, Augustine Chihuri from the police force.

Clifford Hlatywayo, the MDC-T Youth Assembly spokesperson, said police were all over the area of the High Court on Wednesday, armed with AK 47s, teargas and baton sticks. He said they were blocking people from entering the High Court, citing Tuesday’s solidarity demonstration as the reason.

“We engaged our lawyers to talk to the court officials. After 11:00 AM a few of the people who had not left yet were allowed to go inside,” Hlatywayo told SW Radio Africa. He added that about 70 people remained and only a few of them got inside to hear the proceedings.

The defense lawyers presented a fresh case for bail in the morning session, with the state insisting on no bail for all 29 activists, many of who have been in remand prison for over a year. The courts have denied them bail on several occasions, claiming they are a flight risk.

The state claims the activists, including the MDC-T National Youth Chairman Solomon Madzore and several party councilors, murdered policeman Petros Mutedza at a Glen View pub more than a year ago.

The MDC-T insists the charges are false and part of a ZANU PF plot to destabilise their party. However, there has been growing anger and frustration over the partisan actions of the police and the judicial courts, which favour ZANU PF at every turn.

Last month a group of policeman who murdered a mine worker in Shamva were granted $50 bail each after only one month in remand. The MDC-T have pointed to this as an example of the partisan behavior of the courts.

The MDC-T statement said: “Police Commissioner General, Augustine Chihuri has turned ZRP into a police force of lawlessness and disorder. The MDC will not accept and recognise a senior public officer who displays an openly partisan, discriminatory and biased view of the society.”

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