By Alex Bell
15 February 2010
The MDC’s Transport Manager Pascal Gwezere, who was finally released from prison ten days ago, has recounted his ordeal of brutal torture at the hands of state security agents.
Gwezere was until recently locked up at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison after he was abducted by suspected state security agents on October 27, 2009 at his Mufakose home. He was viciously tortured and then refused medical treatment while in custody, pending trial for trumped up banditry charges. He was accused of plotting with army officers and stealing 20 AK 47 rifles and a shotgun from an armoury at Pomona Barracks. With absolutely no evidence against him, the state could not keep him on remand and he was finally released earlier this month.
Gwezere told the Zimbabwe Independent last week that he is a ‘dead’ man, saying that his torturers “have killed me already.” He also said the men were invariably drunk during his interrogation and used a range of torture methods, from tying his genitals with strong cotton thread and pulling them in all directions, to burying him alive.
“They damaged my manhood; they tied my genitals with cotton strings and would pull them from all sides. When that didn’t work they wanted to bury me alive. I can never forget the pain and humiliation for a crime I did not commit,” he narrated to the Zimbabwe Independent.
Gwezere recounted how his abduction resembled a ‘Hollywood’ movie, with a large group of armed men storming his home and bundling him away. Outside the house, Gwezere explained that police in riot gear and more state agents had barricaded the road from both ends. The MDC employee was then beaten with the butt of a pistol while being ‘pinched all over the body including on the ears.’ On arrival at a base he did not know, Gwezere said he was taken to a room where the beatings continued. This time his interrogators used booted feet, clenched fists and open palms. One of the torturers used a broomstick to assault him.
On the first night Gwezere said he was not asked anything in connection with the alleged stolen firearms that he was eventually charged with stealing. Instead he was questioned about his powers as an MDC employee and where he got the powers from. While in detention Gwezere said he was subjected to ‘intense torture using inhuman tactics.’ He detailed how, just before his first appearance in court on October 31, his interrogators threw him into a shallow grave and began to shovel earth on top of him until just his head was left exposed. They said they would only dig him out when he revealed where the stolen arms were hidden. They called this the ‘undertaker method.’
”They told me that I was a stubborn man and that all levels of interrogation had almost been complete yet I had not said anything, so they were going to use the ‘undertaker method’,” Gwezere said.
Gwezere also claimed that he was framed and set up not by someone in ZANU PF, but by someone within his own party, the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai. He said: “I was implicated by fellow workmates who could not stand the idea of being taken in by the security agents.”