By Tererai Karimakwenda
07 November 2012
Three employees from the Counselling Services Unit (CSU), arrested Monday in a police raid on their Harare offices, were transferred to Bulawayo on Wednesday without any charges being specified against them.
A total of five CSU employees were initially taken by police, but the manager, Fidelis Mudimu, and senior staff members Zachariah Godi and Tafadzwa Gesa, are the ones still in police custody.
Kumbirai Mafunda, spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), told SW Radio Africa that the three detainees had reached Gweru when they last made contact, and had been handed over to officers from Bulawayo.
“They have not been formally charged yet and lawyers have not seen the charge sheet or the warned and cautioned statement outlining the details of where the crime allegedly took place. But lawyers have gathered through interaction with the police that it may happen in Bulawayo,” Mafunda explained.
The law in Zimbabwe stipulates that a suspect be charged within 48 hours of arrest, after which their detention becomes unlawful. Mafunda said they were worried because that 48 hour period had already passed. He added that lawyers in Harare and Bulawayo were also working hard to secure the trio’s release.
Asked whether the three employees were being treated well by the police, Mafunda said the right platform for that will be when the suspects appear in court and get the chance to register a complaint if they had been unfairly treated.
James Zidzimu and Penn Bruno were released late Monday evening, along with the Daily News photojournalist Watson Ofumeli, who had been caught up in the chaos at the CSU offices Monday. Police confiscated a computer, client files and other materials during the raid.
CSU is a non-governmental organization that provides psychological and medical assistance to individuals traumatized by political violence and torture. The police warrant said they were looking for “offensive and subversive material.”
The raid has been condemned by civic groups and political parties in the country, who accused the government of conducting a crackdown on human rights defenders and political activists. There have been several other raids and arrests of journalists and MDC-T officials in the last few months, which some observers have linked to elections due in the country next year.
See Amnesty International report: